Pratt & Whitney Shutdown to Lay Off 900

Pratt & Whitney headquarters in East Hartford, Connecticut. Daniel Penfield

By Shimon B. Lifkin

YERUSHALAYIM — The American jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney has decided to close down its plant in Nahariya, which will put some 900 people out of work, Globes reported on Sunday, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Pratt & Whitney’s Blades Technology Industry (BTI) plant management sent a letter on Sunday morning to employees, explaining that “for a long time the factory has been sustaining major losses that are only growing.”

The factory, which currently employs about 1,400, is expected to shut its doors in 2025.

Avigail Damati, who has worked the BTI for 32 years, told Ynet, “Where shall we work? I heard about it on the news. This is not acceptable.”

Chaim Azran, a 42-year veteran, said it wasn’t surprising, but still emotionally “it’s very hard for everyone.”

Azran suggests that instead of closing down the plant, they should sell it to someone else. “if the place isn’t good for them, let them give it to the French, somebody who will run the factory…We hope for the best.”

The Histadrut General Federation of labor declared a work dispute in response to the planned layoffs.

Asher Shmueli, chairman of the Histadrut branch in the western Galil, said that “if someone thinks they can close it just like that and we’ll all clap hands, he is mistaken.”

The Histadrut is demanding that Pratt and Whitney sell off the property. But, they told Ynet, the company refuses because they want to prevent competition.

In 2014, Pratt & Whitney increased its 49% stake in BTI to full ownership by buying the remaining 515 of shares from the Wertheimer family for an estimated hundreds of millions of shekels, said Globes.

BTI also makes precision forged and machined blades for jet engine propellers and controls a major share of the global market. Customers include Rolls Royce, Samsung, and GE.

BTI was founded in 1968 in Nahariya following the embargo imposed on the exports of parts for the Mirage fighter jet by France to Israel, following the Six Day War, which left Israel without propeller blades for the Mirage.

Stef Wertheimer, who set up the company, decided to continue manufacturing the propeller blades for export. The Wertheimer family also owns Techjet Aerofoils in partnership with Rolls Royce, which produces propeller blades at a plant in the Tefen Industrial Park in the Galil, which also has plants in the U.S. and China.

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