Aerospace giant Airbus is planning to cut 1,700 jobs 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.
The company is cutting 15,000 jobs across its global operations.
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.
— Airbus (@Airbus) June 30, 2020
“To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures. 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 competences will enable us to pursue our ambition to pioneer a sustainable future for aerospace.”
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.”
Airbus is also planning to cut 5,000 jobs in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain and 1,300 positions at its other worldwide sites.
No immediate breakdown of job losses in Broughton and Filton will be given.
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.
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.
“The only words uttered by the Government in relation to UK aerospace during this entire crisis came out of the blue today in relation to the prime minister’s UK-made ‘Jet Zero’ project. But while our world-class industry is shedding skills and workers at the present rate, this project will be nothing more than a PR fantasy.
“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.
“With every day that goes by without any action to support this sector from the UK Government, our competitors cheer.”
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. Tonight there will be a huge number of workers at Airbus extremely worried by this announcement – my thoughts are with them and their families.
“As a Welsh Government, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the company, its workforce, the unions and the communities impacted by this – and I will be setting out more detail of the Welsh Government’s response tomorrow.
“Nobody should be under any illusion about the impact Covid is having on aerospace, a critical part of the Welsh economy.
“The sector is in crisis and the UK Government needs to take swift and decisive action now to save the industry and its supply chain. The alarm bells have been sounding for weeks and we need urgent steps at a UK level to prevent this crisis becoming even worse.”
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.”