Airbus SE outlined its plan to reduce its global workforce by 15,000 positions no later than summer 2021, in response to reduced demand in the commercial aerospace sector following the COVID-19 pandemic. The downsizing plan has been in development for several weeks, though Airbus has previously indicated it will reduce aircraft production by 40% from its early 2020 forecasts.
The 40% figure is in line with a decline in commercial aircraft business activity since the pandemic outbreak in late February and March. Airbus noted that air-traffic is not forecast to return to pre-COVID levels before 2023, and potentially as late as 2025.
Airbus has already begun scaling back its commercial aircraft production rates. It plans to reduce the output of the best-selling A320 series by one-third, to 40 aircraft a month. The wide-body A350 jets would be reduced by about 40% to six aircraft per month; and the A330 series would be reduced more than 40% to two aircraft per month, based on the most recently published Airbus production figures.
Other commercial aircraft sector manufacturers have begun to implement downsizing plans as well, including Boeing Co. and jet-engine builders GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce Plc.
According to its own statement, the employment cuts will mean elimination of approximately:
• 5,000 positions in France;
• 5,100 positions in Germany
• 900 positions in Spain;
• 1,700 positions in the U.K.; and
• 1,300 positions at other locations around the world (including the U.S. and Canada.)
The projected figures include Airbus subsidiaries Stelia in France and Premium AEROTEC in Germany. However, they do not include approximately 900 positions previously identified for elimination in a restructuring of Premium AEROTEC.
Airbus emphasized that specific details of the downsizing plan have not been finalized and must be agreed to by its "social partners."
“Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced,” stated CEO Guillaume Faury. “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.”