Airbus Warns It Could Quit UK Under A 'No-Deal Brexit’, Putting Jobs At Risk

Graeme Demianyk

Aerospace firm Airbus has warned it could pull out of the UK with the loss of thousands of jobs in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

The firm, which employs 14,000 people at 25 sites across the country, said it would “reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country” if Britain crashed out of the single market and customs union without a transition agreement.

Publishing a Brexit “risk assessment” on its website, the firm also called on the Government to extend the planned transition period due to run until December 2020 if a deal is agreed, saying it was too short for the business to reorganise its supply chain.

If there was no extension it would “carefully monitor any new investments in the UK and refrain from extending the UK suppliers/partners base”, it said. 

Tom Williams, the chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said: “In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular.

“Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated.

“While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively.

“Without these, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant.

“We have sought to highlight our concerns over the past 12 months, without success.

“Far from Project Fear, this is a dawning reality for Airbus.

“Put simply, a no-deal scenario directly threatens Airbus’ future in the UK.”

In its risk assessment, Airbus says it is “getting increasingly concerned by the lack of progress on the Brexit process”.

It says it supports more than 110,000 jobs among 4,000 suppliers in the UK, with parts crossing the Channel “multiple times”.

This business relies on “frictionless trade” under customs union and single market rules, it added, saying “any change in customs procedures, logistics and environmental standards would have major industrial and cost impact”.

It went on: “A no-deal Brexit must be avoided, as it would force Airbus to reconsider its footprint in the country, its investments in the UK and at large its dependency on the UK.

“Given the ‘No-deal/hard Brexit’ uncertainties, the company’s dependence on and investment in the flagship Wing Of Tomorrow programme would also have to be revisited, and corresponding key competencies grown outside the UK.

“This extremely negative outcome for Airbus would be catastrophic.

“It would impair our ability to benefit from highly qualified British resources, it would also severely undermine UK efforts to keep a competitive and innovative aerospace industry, while developing high value jobs and competencies.”

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