After more than two weeks of furlough, Mooney Aircraft’s workers were back on the job Monday, but their future remains hazy.
A statement by Mooney’s Devan Burns, listed as a human resources generalist, said the furlough is over, and said the oft-troubled company was in negotiations with another investor. Just who that investor is remains unclear, as does much with Mooney.
The company has been owned by Chinese-based company Meijing Group, which infused money into the troubled airplane maker in 2013. However, what Meijing’s role will be in the future is not certain. Mooney has built and delivered 41 single-engine airplanes since the Chinese company took over.
Through the first three quarters of 2019, Mooney had sold and delivered eight airplanes — including six of its M20V Acclaim Ultra. The company, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reports, had billed about $6.4 million.
While Mooney is well loved by many of its customers, who affectionately describe the airplane as “the Porsche of private planes,” the company has struggled mightily through the years.
Airplane-focused media has been skeptical of Mooney’s ability to compete in a field dominated by bigger competitors.
“And even though the (Mooney) M20s are faster and have nearly identical engines and avionics to market-leading Cirrus SR22s, Mooneys don’t have airframe parachutes — and Cirrus far outsold them,” wrote pilot David Hirschman in an article for Airplane Owners Pilots Associations.
Hirschman opined last week that Mooney would probably do the bare minimum to keep its Federal Aviation Administration certifications to build airplanes and parts.
Last week, rival aircraft manufacturer Cubcrafters used targeted Facebook advertising to reach Kerrville and Mooney workers about employment opportunities at that company’s manufacturing facilities in Washington.
Burns pushed back against that suggestion.
“By the way, the article yesterday about (Cubcrafters) was all false,” Burns wrote in an email. “They may have offered opportunities for employees to work for them, but that would require relocating, and all of our employees at this point reside in Kerrville/surrounding area and do not plan to move.
“Our employees are the heart of Mooney and have even remained working some of us while on furlough to keep our pride and business here in Kerrville, Texas.”
Walt Koenig, president and CEO of the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was happy to see the employees were back to work on Monday.
“We will continue to support their continued operations,” Koenig said. “We value Mooney in the community.”
Kerr County commissioners expressed similar enthusiasm for keeping the business in the community.
Mooney has been operating in Kerrville since 1953 but has had numerous owners since the company parted ways with founder Al Mooney around 1955.