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Airbus Eyeing Widespread Job Cuts

May 14, 2020
The aircraft builder may be seeking to reduce total employment by 10,000 or more, matching the moves by its major rival in response to collapsing commercial aircraft demand.

Airbus SE has let trade unions know it wants to make permanent an unknown number of job cuts, paralleling moves by rival Boeing Co. and jet-engine manufacturer GE Aviation. Reports citing anonymous sources indicated Airbus may seek to let go over 10,000 employees.

From airlines to aircraft builders and their suppliers, the commercial aircraft sector has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Boeing has indicated it plans to reduce its overall employment by 10%, or roughly 16,000, and GE Aviation intends to eliminate up to 25% of its total workforce, or about 13,000 employees. Engine builders Safran SA and Rolls-Royce plc are expected to outline employment cuts, too.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury last month warned the group's 135,000 workers worldwide that Airbus is “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed”, and severe job-cuts may be forthcoming as aircraft orders evaporate. “The survival of Airbus is in question if we don’t act now,” Faury stated in a company-wide message.

The group had already initiated talks with labor representatives of the Airbus Defence and Space unit, regarding plans to reduce employment by over 2,300 through the end of 2021. In 2019, Airbus Defence new orders trailed revenues for the third consecutive year. Now, the orders for commercial aircraft have been significantly reduced, mainly due to new reduced projections for future aircraft demand.

Following the plant shutdowns to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, about 3,000 Airbus workers in France are being laid off under a government assistance program, and the group has furloughed 3,200 workers at an wing assembly plant in Broughton, Wales, taking advantage of a U.K. job-retention package that allows employers to claim grants for up to 80% of wages. Airbus also has sizable workforces at plants in Canada, Germany, Spain, and the U.S.

“Over the last few weeks, Airbus has implemented a number of financial, operational and social measures in order to adapt to the severe health and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis,” according to a statement. “The company will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the future of Airbus in cooperation with its social partners.”

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