Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney laid off about 350 employees across the country on Wednesday amid concerns that airlines may delay or cancel orders as the global economy slows.

The cuts will affect less than 1 percent of the company’s work force of more than 38,000 employees, and will take effect immediately, Jennifer Whitlow, a spokeswoman said.

“The economy has without a doubt impacted the global aerospace market,” said Whitlow. “Airlines are looking to reduce cost structure and we are part of that value chain.”

About 280 of the layoffs will occur at the company’s Connecticut operations. The remaining 70 will affect employees in 12 other states including Maine and Texas. Those cuts will affect salaried positions including administrative assistants, engineers and accountants, Whitlow said.

“This announcement is a reminder of the grim realities faced as a result of the recession gripping our country and its impact on the global economy,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., in a statement.

She called for quick action from Congress to create an economic recovery package to help the “country get back on-track.”

Pratt said its decision aims to lower company costs as worsening economic conditions hurt the aerospace industry.

Several U.S. airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc., have promised or hinted they will cut domestic and international capacity further in 2009. On Tuesday, Delta, the world’s biggest carrier, suggested more job cuts could be on the way as it disclosed it would reduce consolidated system capacity by 6 percent to 8 percent in 2009, compared with the current year.

In October, United Airlines, the nation’s third-largest carrier, also said it expects its overall capacity to shrink 8 percent to 9 percent during 2009.

Earlier this year, United Technologies Chief Financial Officer Gregory Hayes told analysts he expected the slowing global economy and credit crisis to have an impact on business operations in 2009. Among those areas likely to be hurt were Pratt’s aerospace parts and servicing markets.

Outside of job cuts, Pratt has taken other cost-cutting measures, including restricting hires to critical positions and working with suppliers to trim expenses.

Shares of the Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies Corp. rose $1.26, or 2.7 percent, to close at $47.32 Wednesday.

AP-ES-12-03-08 1900EST


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