Rolls-Royce will close its aircraft parts factory in central Virginia by the middle of next year, putting 280 people out of work, the company confirmed Saturday.
The closure is the result of declining global travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. There had already been 120 layoffs at the plant in June.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a historic collapse in civil aviation that will take several years to recover. As a result, we have had to make difficult, but necessary, decisions to protect the future of our business,” said the Rolls spokesperson. -Royce for North America, Don Campbell, in a statement.
Britain-based Rolls-Royce is headquartered in North America in Northern Virginia.
The factory opened in 2011 in an office park in Prince George’s County, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Richmond. The plant manufactures precision aircraft components, such as rotating discs and turbine blades, the newspaper said.
Workers were informed of the plant’s closure on Friday, which could have a ripple effect on Virginia’s core economy as the factory’s suppliers lose business.
Construction of the plant was announced in 2007. The state provided an incentive package worth $ 57 million, most of which is tied to employment and investment goals that the company would have to meet for 16 years.
The plant was initially supposed to test and assemble components for corporate jets, but the Great Recession prompted Rolls-Royce to change its plans.
Then-President Barack Obama visited the plant in 2012 to discuss his proposal for a network of US research centers to foster competitiveness in manufacturing.