Welsh economy minister urges UK Government to respond with 'decisive action' to Airbus job losses

Wales' economy minister has urged the UK Government to take "decisive action" in response to the cutting of 1,700 UK jobs at Airbus. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Wales' economy minister has urged the UK Government to take "decisive action" in response to the cutting of 1,700 UK jobs at Airbus.

The aerospace giant announced job losses across plants in the UK as a result of coronavirus on Tuesday night. The news comes as a huge blow to its site at Broughton in Flintshire, which manufactures 800 sets of wings each year.

Speaking at Wednesday's press conference, he said the Covid-19 pandemic has had an "immediate and catastrophic effect on the aerospace and aviation sectors globally."

He promised the Welsh Government would not abandon the Airbus workforce, but said the "global nature of the current crisis means that local solutions will not be enough".

Airbus' site in Broughton, Flintshire, manufactures more than 800 sets of wings every year. Credit: ITV Wales

The company is cutting 15,000 jobs across its global operations. Earlier this year its boss warned the firm was "bleeding cash" due to the collapse in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Skates said around 70 per cent of passenger fleets were grounded in April, with Airbus Airbus estimating that loss of passenger revenues costing the sector globally more than $300 billion.

"Demand may take up to five years to return to pre-pandemic levels. And as a consequence, the Airbus order book has been severely hit as orders have been cancelled or deferred.

"In total we have identified 150 suppliers which would need to realign production as a result of this news."

Mr Skates said he had no reason to believe that all 1,700 Airbus jobs will go from Broughton, but is preparing for a "significant proportion" to be lost.

The economy minister outlined four specific steps the Welsh Government will take to support Airbus, including making advice and support available to the workforce.

He also called for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to shorten the working week for aviation workers in order to protect against further job losses.

Mr Skates called on the Chancellor to provide support for the industry similar to the multibillion-pound package put in place by the French government for its aerospace sector.

"I welcome the Chancellor's decision to proceed with the job retention scheme, but now I call on the Chancellor to ensure that as an evolution of that scheme, the UK Government provides support for a shorter working week to minimise the number of job losses."

The Secretary of State for Wales described news of the cuts as "extremely worrying".

He said: "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.”

Watch the full briefing here: