Tuesday 30 June 2020 7:39 pm

Airbus to axe 15,000 jobs as pandemic hammers aviation industry

Aviation giant Airbus has announced it will shed 15,000 jobs, adding that its future was at stake as the coronavirus crisis continues to batter the aviation industry.

Europe’s biggest aerospace group said it would cut around 1,700 posts in the UK, 5,000 in France, 5,100 in Germany, 900 in Spain and 1,300 elsewhere. The company has already agreed to slash 900 jobs at its Premium Aerotec unit in Germany.

Read more: Exclusive: UK unhappy with treatment from EU in Airbus-Boeing dispute

The UK’s Unite union said plans by Airbus to cut 1,700 jobs in Britain will affect its operations across the country, including its two biggest factories, as the union reiterated a call for government support for the sector.

Unite said 1,116 manufacturing jobs would be lost, with Airbus’ largest UK factories in North Wales and Bristol to be affected, along with 611 office jobs.

“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,” Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said.

Chief executive Guillaume Faury added that the fresh job cuts do not include the 2,600 reductions already planned in Airbus’ defence and space business.

The job cuts are subject to talks with unions, which have renewed pledges to oppose compulsory redundancies. Airbus has refused to rule them out as it seeks voluntary departures.

The cuts represent around 11 per cent of Airbus’ 135,000-strong workforce, which is heavily populated by veterans of its A320 development. The group has its main operations in France, but also runs production facilities in Germany, Spain and the UK.

The company said in a statement today that it was responding to a 40 per cent slump in activity in its commercial aircraft business in recent months, and expectations that the recovery will be slow.

“Airbus is grateful for the government support that has enabled the company to limit these necessary adaptation measures,” it said.

“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.”

But the French finance ministry slammed the job cuts as “excessive” and urged the aerospace giant to revise its announcement.

“The number of job cuts announced by Airbus is excessive. We expect Airbus to fully use instruments put in place by the government to reduce job cuts,” the finance ministry said.

Airbus secured a €15bn ($13.7bn) emergency support package in March in a last-ditch rescue bid as the pandemic swept across Europe.

The French government has pledged €15bn to support the aviation industry,  in an attempt to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs and shore up the manufacturer Airbus and the national carrier, Air France.

Airbus has so far avoided a government bailout, but its future remains up in the air as many of the airlines that purchase Airbus planes have been badly affected by the pandemic.

It comes as the aviation industry continues to feel the weight of the pandemic as the bulk of flights remain grounded around the world.

Read more: Airbus profit halves amid ‘gravest crisis’ in aviation history

The global airline industry is set to lose a record $84bn (£68.3bn) this year, according to the International Air Transport Association. The sector unlikely to return to profitability in 2021 even if there is a sharp rebound in global economic activity.

Boeing, which was already on an unstable footing from the grounding of its 737 Max jet before the pandemic, announced it will slash 16,000 jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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