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Dassault may close New Castle hangar, offshore 130+ jobs

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Dassault Falcon may close its New Castle hangar and offshore 131 jobs early next year, according to officials. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEW CASTLE – Dassault Falcon, the longtime private jet hangar operator at the Wilmington-New Castle Airport, may soon close the facility after a year of contentious negotiations with its employee union.

The potential closure, first reported Friday by WDEL, would impact as many as 131 employees of Local 1542 of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). The Delaware Department of Labor confirmed Monday that it has received a Workforce Adjustment and Retraining Notification, also known as a WARN notice sent before a layoff of at least 50 people, that the workers would be affected between Feb. 4 and 18.

Dassault service centers like the one in New Castle perform maintenance and repairs on Falcon jets and complete renovations on the planes. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DASSAULT FALCON

While it has filed the notice ahead of a large-scale layoff, a Dassault spokesman said in a Monday statement that, “Company management and union representatives will meet again in the near future to continue discussions. Meanwhile, the Wilmington facility will continue to operate normally.”

Dassault has apparently had a fractious year with its unionized labor, with six National Labor Relations Board cases filed this year alone between the two.

One case lodged by the UAW accusing Dassault of refusing to bargain or bargaining in bad faith remains open, according to board records. Five other cases filed from February to July have been dismissed or withdrawn.

In 2019, four cases were filed by the union against Dassault claiming coercive practices and threats against workers, although all were dismissed or withdrawn.

On Monday, UAW Region 8 Director Mitch Smith told Delaware Business Times that the company was planning on offshoring the Wilmington jobs.

“Despite deep concessions on the part of UAW members at Dassault Falcon in our past contract, the company rewarded these hard-working employees by announcing they were closing the plant to relocate outside the United States. These employees and their families deserved dignity and respect from this company, not loss of jobs after absorbing major concessions in years past,” he said in a statement.

The New Castle site is one of five global maintenance service centers for private jets operated by the French company. It acquired the former Atlantic Aviation in 2000 and has operated the hangar ever since, both maintaining and repairing Falcon jets that land at the airport while also completing interior modifications and refurbishments and exterior paint jobs.

Four large hangar bays, totaling more than 300,000 square feet, are complemented at the facility by a structural repair center, paint shop, and other amenities for customers.

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