'Gravest crisis' as Airbus plans to cut 15,000 jobs, 1,700 in UK

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Aircraft manufacturer, which has a plant in Broughton, north Wales, hit hard by pandemic

The planemaker Airbus has announced plans to cut as many as 15,000 jobs – including 1,700 in the UK – as it warned the coronavirus pandemic had triggered the “gravest crisis” in its history.

The planned cuts represent almost 15% of the European aerospace company’s global workforce of 135,000, underlining the depth of the crisis hitting the aviation and aerospace industries.

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World news | The Guardian

The planemaker Airbus has announced plans to cut as many as 15,000 jobs – including 1,700 in the UK – as it warned the coronavirus pandemic had triggered the “gravest crisis” in its history.

The planned cuts represent almost 15% of the European aerospace company’s global workforce of 135,000, underlining the depth of the crisis hitting the aviation and aerospace industries. Airbus said the cuts would be made no later than 2021 after commercial aircraft business activity dropped by close to 40% in recent months.

The cuts will affect workers across Airbus’s major operations in France, Germany and Spain, as well as the UK operation making wings at Broughton, north Wales. The Welsh operation, which is expected to bear the brunt of UK job losses, employed about 6,000 workers before the crisis, with a total of 14,000 Airbus employees in the UK.

Germany was hardest hit, with 5,100 redundancies. Airbus plans 5,000 redundancies in France, 900 in Spain and 1,300 across the rest of the world.

“Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced,” said chief executive Guillaume Faury. “The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic. Now we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers. To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures.”

Faury previously warned that the impact of the job cuts could fall more heavily on the UK after the French and German governments pledged to spend billions of euros to prop up their aerospace industries. The company has already told 500 workers at Broughton employed by an external agency that they would not return from furlough.

Airbus delivered a record 863 planes to its customers in 2019, far outstripping its arch-rival Boeing as the US manufacturer struggled with the global grounding of its bestselling 737 Max. However, the pandemic has since poleaxed the aviation industry and airlines have dramatically reduced their orders.

The Airbus redundancies are in line with the 16,000 announced by Boeing in April, a tenth of its workforce – although the US planemaker has also signalled that further job losses could be necessary.

Norwegian Air Shuttle on Tuesday cancelled orders for 97 Boeing jets, the largest cancellation by a single Boeing customer since the grounding of the 737 Max.

Airbus in April announced that it would cut production of its commercial aircraft by a third. That means it will only make 40 of its bestselling A320 planes a month, compared with the rate of more than 60 expected before the crisis.

The production cut meant that Airbus officials and worker representatives have been preparing for job losses for weeks, with options thought to include a voluntary redundancy programme as well as compulsory job losses.

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Paul Everitt, chief executive of UK aerospace lobby group ADS, said the Airbus job cuts showed that the government would need to aid the industry further.

“Being the largest commercial aircraft company in the UK, Airbus is central to our aerospace industry and has a close relationship with its highly integrated UK supply chain,” Everitt said. “This difficult news will be unsettling for their employees and those working as part of the supply chain.”


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