Airbus to axe 1,700 UK jobs as company faces ‘gravest crisis’

Harry Lye 1 July 2020 (Last Updated July 1st, 2020 16:01)

Airbus has announced it is cutting 1,700 UK jobs and a further 13,300 jobs globally as the aircraft maker struggles with the effects Covid-19 has had on the aerospace market.

Airbus to axe 1,700 UK jobs as company faces ‘gravest crisis’
The Airbus A400M.Image: Roberto Molinos/ Airbus S.A.S. 2020.

Airbus has announced it is cutting 1,700 UK jobs and a further 13,300 jobs globally as the aircraft maker struggles with the effects Covid-19 has had on the aerospace market.

While the company’s defence business has remained relatively steady, its commercial aerospace component has been in decline, with business activity collapsing by almost 40% over the last few months.

The job losses will start in autumn this year and carry on through to 2021. Across its operations, 1,700 UK jobs will go, along with 5,000 in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, and 1,300 across other sites worldwide.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said: “Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced. 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.”

Airbus said the company needed to take the measures to reflect the shape of the post-Covid-19 industry where air traffic is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest.

Faury added: “Our management team and our board of directors are fully committed to limiting the social impact of this adaptation. We thank our governmental partners as they help us preserve our expertise and know-how as much as possible and have played an important role in limiting the social impact of this crisis in our industry.

“The Airbus teams and their skills and competencies will enable us to pursue our ambition to pioneer a sustainable future for aerospace.”

GlobalData aerospace, defence and security analyst Nicolas Jouan told Air Force Technology that the job losses would primarily affect the company’s commercial business, but that defence would not entirely escape unscathed.

Jouan said: “Airbus UK and Spain, where a high proportion of defence staff are located, will be touched by the reduction but two-third of the cuts will, in fact, be concentrated in Germany and France. Civil aviation, which represents 70% of the company’s revenues, has been the most impacted sector by Covid-19 so far with the collapse of air travel.”

With future uncertainty in the commercial market, and the continued hit to the aerospace sector if airlines continue to freeze or cancel airliner orders future job losses could be on the horizon.

“The rest of the year will be decisive as airlines and leasing companies will decide whether they should restart orders, depending on the state of air travel, or rather play secure and

keep orders frozen. In the latter case, and considering the current situation, it is not impossible to see more lay-off at Airbus,” Jouan said.

In a statement, Unite the Union called the job cuts ‘industrial vandalism’ and accused the British government of standing aside while a ‘national asset is destroyed’. UK job losses are set to be split between plants in Broughton, Wales, and Filton in Bristol, as well as some office-based positions.

Airbus in Broughton manufactures wings for the entire Airbus commercial fleet, and the company’s Filton operation is responsible for manufacturing wings for and equipping the military A400M transport aircraft.