Coronavirus: Airbus cuts 1,700 UK jobs due to 'unprecedented' crisis

30 June 2020, 18:48 | Updated: 30 June 2020, 22:28

Airbus is to cut 1,700 jobs in the UK as part of a major restructuring caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The France-based aeroplane maker said it was cutting 15,000 roles overall as it faces up to what it described as an "unprecedented crisis" in the industry.

It currently employs 13,500 people in the UK, including at major sites at Broughton in North Wales and Filton in Bristol.

The planned cuts are expected to be completed by next summer.

Airbus said 5,000 jobs will go in France and 6,000 in Germany, with 900 affected in Spain and the remainder at other sites worldwide.

It said it took the decision after a 40% plunge in commercial aircraft business activity in recent months resulting in a slump in production.

The company said that while it was grateful for government help to support the sector, it was facing the prospect of air traffic levels not recovering to pre-COVID levels until possibly as late as 2025.

Airbus 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.

"To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures."

Job cuts have appeared likely at Airbus since early on in the crisis.

In April, Mr Faury warned in a leaked internal letter that the company was "bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed" and that its survival was under threat without immediate action.

ADS, the UK trade body representing the aerospace, defence and security sectors, said new measures were "urgently required" to support a recovery in the sector.

Its chief executive Paul Everitt 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."

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It comes after engine maker Rolls-Royce said last month it was to cut 9,000 jobs from its global workforce.

Thousands of roles have also been axed at airlines British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair as a result of the lockdown.

Labour's shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon MP said with a jobs threat hanging over workers in the sector, ministers had been "found wanting" .

The party is calling for an extension to the furlough scheme - under which the taxpayer subsidises 80% of wages for temporarily laid-off workers - for the most badly-affected sectors, as well as a "sectoral deal" to protect the aviation industry as a whole.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary at trade union Unite, said it was an "act of industrial vandalism".

"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," Mr Turner added.