Piper sales up slightly but badly lag 2008

While Piper Aircraft’s sales improved slightly in the second quarter, total sales of Piper planes in the first half of 2009 continued to lag badly behind total sales a year earlier, according to data released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association on Tuesday.Piper sold 23 planes in the second quarter for a total of $23.5 million compared to 22 planes in the first quarter totaling $20.8 million, the trade group reported. Sales of the Piper Matrix and Piper Meridian continued to pace the company’s performance, accounting for 17 of the sales in the second quarter.  The two planes were responsible for 18 of Piper’s sales in the first quarter.The numbers were way off last year’s sales, when Piper sold 75 planes in the second quarter.  The fall-off in sales across the general aviation industry has resulted in plant closings and layoffs at a number of companies, and Piper — which has laid off an estimated 500 workers and instituted reduced work weeks and furloughs for those who remain — has been no exception.The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said for the first half of 2009, total general aviation airplane shipments fell 45.9 percent, from 1,918 units in 2008 to 1,037 units this year.

“These are extremely challenging times for all general aviation manufacturers and suppliers. Layoffs continue and our industry has been forced to slow, and in some cases, temporarily halt production lines,” said GAMA President and CEO, Pete Bunce. However, Bunce said he was “encouraged that the overall economic picture is showing some signs of improvement, which is a crucial condition for recovery in the general aviation market.  Flight hours are stabilizing, used inventories are beginning to shrink, and our manufacturers are seeing signs of renewed interest in airplane purchases.”

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