Airbus planning to cut 1,700 jobs in UK as result of coronavirus crisis

An airbus plane comes in to land
Airbus Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Aerospace giant Airbus is planning to cut 15,000 jobs, 1,700 of which are in the UK, as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the company announced.

The news is a huge blow to its site at Broughton in north Wales, where wings are manufactured, and its other factory at Filton in Bristol.

No immediate breakdown of job losses at the two sites has been given.

Airbus said it was cutting the jobs due to decreased demand for flights, something it did not expect to return to pre-coronavirus levels until as late as 2025.

Worldwide the cuts will see 5,000 jobs lost in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain and 1,300 positions at its other worldwide sites.

Airbus said compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out at this stage, adding it will work with its social partners to limit the impact of its plans by relying on all available social measures, including voluntary departures, early retirement, and long term partial unemployment schemes where appropriate.

It is not known how many jobs will go at Broughton or Filton. Credit: PA

A company statement said: “Airbus has announced plans to adapt its global workforce and resize its commercial aircraft activity in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

“This adaptation is expected to result in a reduction of around 15,000 positions no later than summer 2021.

“The information and consultation process with social partners has begun with a view to reaching agreements for implementation starting in autumn 2020.”

Airbus said commercial aircraft business activity has dropped by almost 40% in recent months as the industry faces an “unprecedented” crisis.

The statement continued: “Airbus is grateful for the government support that has enabled the company to limit these necessary adaptation measures.

“However with air traffic not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures to reflect the post Covid-19 industry outlook.”

Chief executive 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."

Paul Everitt, chief executive of trade body ADS said: “This is undoubtedly the toughest period the global aerospace industry has ever faced.

“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.

"This difficult news will be unsettling for their employees and those working as part of the supply chain.

“The aerospace industry contributes to the UK’s prosperity and international competitiveness and our highly-skilled workforce is primed to play a huge role in creating the sustainable aircraft of the future.

"We have already seen tens of thousands of jobs across the aviation and aerospace sectors put at risk as a result of this crisis.

“Government action to support the wider economy has been greatly appreciated across the aerospace industry, but further measures are urgently required to support a strong recovery in our sector.

"This should include increased investment in UK innovation, help to recapitalise the supply chain and using public procurement to support high-value UK manufacturing.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is yet another act of industrial vandalism and a terrible insult to our incredible UK workforce who deserve so much better from our government.

“Over the weeks of this crisis, this country’s aerospace jobs have gone hand over fist yet not one word of support or act of assistance has been forthcoming from the government.

“The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed...

“UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr Macron and Ms Merkel provide to their workers. Airbus workers in France and Germany have up to two years to work to fend off their redundancies and turn their businesses around while in the UK the axe falls with immediate effect."

Speaking at prime minister’s question on Wednesday, Sir Keir Starmer highlighted the job losses at Airbus, easyJet and others, adding: “There was nothing in the Prime Minister’s speech for the 3.2 million people in hospitality or the 2.9 million in retail.

“Next week’s financial statement could be the last chance to save millions of jobs. Will the Prime Minister start now by extending the furlough scheme for those parts of the economy which are still most at risk?”

Some 15,000 jobs will go worldwide. Credit: PA

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said: “News of job losses today in the aviation sector is devastating for those affected.

“Thousands of jobs have been under threat of redundancy, with staff, the sector and politicians of all sides urging the Government to act, yet Tory ministers have been found wanting.

“Labour has consistently called for an extension to the furlough in the most impacted industries, and a sectoral deal that supports the whole aviation industry, including securing jobs and protecting the supply chain, while continuing to press for higher environmental standards.”

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Airbus is a vital part of the North Wales economy so this is extremely worrying news for workers, their families and the wider community.

“I have spoken to Airbus this week and will continue to work closely with the company, the trade unions and the Welsh Government to do everything we can to support employees and those affected in the wider supply chain.

“The UK government has already taken wide-ranging action to support companies since the start of the pandemic.

“Nevertheless, the coronavirus and its economic impact continue to generate huge challenges for businesses across the economy and the UK government stands ready to help those affected.”

Wales’s minister for economy, transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “This news is utterly devastating...

"There will be a huge number of workers at Airbus extremely worried by this announcement – my thoughts are with them and their families."

Peter Hughes, Unite’s Wales regional secretary, said: “The significance of large-scale job losses at Airbus would have a devastating impact on the aerospace sector in Wales and on the wider Welsh economy.

“Unite has been calling for the UK Government to put a plan of support in place for the aerospace sector for months. This support has been provided by France and Germany.

“Will the UK Government now step up to the plate and do everything required to support UK aviation jobs?

“We are calling upon Airbus to hold their nerve and step back from implementing their plan.”