BlackBerry bought jet months before layoff announcement

Canadian tech company BlackBerry bought a private jet months before announcing it would lay off 40 per cent of its global workforce and incur a quarterly loss of nearly a billion dollars, but now says it has decided to sell the used Bombardier aircraft.

Waterloo-Ont.-based company says it will sell Bombardier aircraft delivered in July

BlackBerry bought a Bombardier Global Express jet in 2013, months before announcing significant layoffs. (Lauri Huima/Canadian Press)

Canadian tech company BlackBerry bought a private jet months before announcing it would lay off 40 per cent of its global workforce and incur a quarterly loss of nearly a billion dollars, but now says it has decided to sell the used Bombardier aircraft.

The company, based in Waterloo, Ont., bought the jet this year to replace two medium-range Dassault aircraft it had purchased several years earlier.

"The company considered several options and selected a used Bombardier aircraft, which was eventually delivered in July," BlackBerry said in an emailed statement. 

"In light of the company’s current business condition, the company has decided to sell that aircraft along with the two legacy aircraft and will no longer own any planes."

The company declined to offer any other details, but according to Transport Canada's aircraft registry, BlackBerry has three planes in its possession: two Dassault Falcons and one Bombardier Global Express plane, which was registered in July.

"I think even back in July it was clear that the launch was being delayed and I don't think it was going that smoothly," said Ian Russell, president of the Investment Industry Association of Canada. "They might have even had an indication of the first quarter numbers so they were probably losing money even at the time so I don't think there was a lot of optimism." 

News of the aircraft purchase was met with frustration from area residents, many of whom have friends, family or neighbours that work for the company. 

"If they knew they had to lay off people, why would they do that?" asked Waterloo resident Claudette Meyer. "And a whole bunch of people have lost their jobs too, so it's a little disappointing." 

Earlier this week, BlackBerry announced it would take a non-cash loss in the second quarter of $930 million to $960 million, mainly due to its large inventory of unsold Z10 devices. The company says it sold only 3.7 million smartphones in the second quarter, and would cut 4,500 jobs globally.

It did not say how many jobs would be cut at its headquarters in Waterloo or when more details would be revealed.

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