Honda Aircraft Co. has laid off 204 contract workers employed through staffing agencies at its plant at Piedmont International Airport, the company confirmed on Tuesday evening.

“Honda Aircraft Co. has been faced with many significant challenges over the recent months,” the company said in a statement emailed to Triad City Beat. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact industries globally, and new business jet deliveries will be significantly reduced in 2020.” The company produces its HondaJet Elite business aircraft at its headquarters and manufacturing facility at the airport, near Greensboro.

The company implemented salary reductions and temporarily suspended production from March 30 through April 14. The statement said the decision to release the contract workers “was not taken lightly, but it was unavoidable to ensure the viability of Honda Aircraft Company as we move into very uncertain future business conditions.”

The company also confirmed that a contract worker on its second shift has tested positive for COVID-19.

“Once notified, we immediately conducted a thorough investigation with the vendor company, which found that this worker had not been on-site at Honda Aircraft Co. for one week prior to testing positive for COVID-19, was not displaying any symptoms when last on site, and that no Honda Aircraft Company team members came in contact with this individual,” the company said. “Immediately after confirming these details, we informed all team members about this incident on April 30, even though no exposure took place.”

Several weeks before the worker had tested positive, the statement said, Honda Aircraft Co. had already implemented cleaning and sanitizing all its facilities multiple times a day. The company said all visitors and employees are being screened for fever, and the company is providing employees with disposable masks. Other actions taken to control the virus include “installation of cubicle partitions, social distancing measures in the workplace, and remote work and associate time-ff programs.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Honda Aircraft Co. was formed in 2006, and opened its headquarters and manufacturing facility at Piedmont Triad International Airport in 2007, after receiving a total of $8 million in state and local incentives. In 2011, the company announced it would invest $78.7 million in an expansion that would create 419 jobs over five years, with additional incentives from local government, and last year signaled plans for an additional $15.5 million expansion at the airport.

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