28 February 2011

Cirrus Sold to Chinese Government

The announcement was made today, 28 February 2011, that Cirrus Aircraft had been sold to China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. (CAIGA) of Zhuhai, China. CAIGA is owned by Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), which is in turn owned by the Government of the People's Republic of China. Anyone who didn't see this coming just wasn't paying attention, as I noted in this blog when Continental was bought by the Chinese.

Of course the company people put the best spin possible on the sale. Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters said: "CAIGA understands the strength and the talent of Cirrus's workforce and the prominence of the Cirrus brand in general aviation. Through this transaction, CAIGA will invest in our employees in both Minnesota and North Dakota by committing to the continued use of our world-class production facilities."

Cirrus co-founder and present Chairman Dale Klapmeier said: "With this transaction, Cirrus will continue to develop and build the best, most exciting aircraft in the world. The original dream remains alive and well at Cirrus. We are just embarking on our next chapter on a global stage."

Of course the question everyone is asking is "will the jobs stay in Duluth and Grand Forks or move to Zhuhai?" Right now everyone is making reassuring noises. Meng Xiangkai, CAIGA’s President, stated: "CAIGA is dedicated to being an international leader in the provision of general aviation products and services, and light piston aircraft is one of CAIGA’s business focuses. We are very optimistic to begin our partnership with Cirrus and add Cirrus’s strong brand as the cornerstone in our aviation product portfolio. We are deeply impressed with Cirrus's performance in the global general aviation industry, especially with its consistent product performance, comprehensive safety features, outstanding management team, highly skilled employee base and advanced production facilities as well as its expanding global footprint. We look forward to working with Cirrus’s management team to build upon Cirrus’s proven success and to further expand production volume in order to cement Cirrus’s existing leadership position in the global general aviation industry, as well as to produce greater job opportunities in Duluth and Grand Forks."