Friday, August 24, 2018

Bell closes Lafayette plant

LAFAYETTE, La. – Bell Helicopters is shutting down its operation at the Lafayette Regional Airport. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) said the state’s contract with Bell was being terminated due to underperformance. LED provided $26 million in funding to the manufacturer in 2013 to establish an assembly base in the state. The facility was initially supposed to be the final assembly line for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X but later transitioned to the 525 cabin subassembly facility. Part of the agreement was that Bell would create 115 new direct jobs. Bell renegotiated the contract last year to bring that number down to 95. But Bell currently employs 22 full-time workers at the site. The work done in Lafayette will be done now in Amarillo, Texas. LED is seeking to be repaid $16 million. (Sources: KLFY, Helicopter Investor, 08/23/18, Acadiana Advocate, 08/24/18) Lafayette is about two hours west of New Orleans along Interstate 10.