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Business

Airbus warns of British exit from EU

Europe's top plane maker, Airbus, has said a possible British exit from the European Union might have dire consequences for the company's investment strategy. The firm spoke of huge risks, including massive job losses.

European aircraft maker Airbus joined in the debate about

Britain's future in the European Union

, warning of huge potential risks, should the country turn its back on the bloc after a referendum to be held by the end of 2017.

"I don't believe that there is anyone who has run a global business who can truly, and clearly, argue that there will be greater value and economic benefit outside the EU, as opposed to in it," Airbus Group UK President Paul Kahn said in an address to Welsh businessmen.

He noted that a decision to quit the EU would raise doubts about Airbus' long-term future in the country. The company employs 16,000 people in the UK, producing wings for passenger planes at a facility in Broughton in northern Wales.

Impact on jobs

But many more jobs might be affected, Kahn warned. "In Wales alone, some 150,000 to 200,000 jobs could be directly impacted, if Britain were to leave," he said in his speech.

Kahn admitted that transferring manufacturing skills to another location outside the UK could not be done overnight because of long lead times to build up the skills required for a smooth production process.

But while jobs might be slow to leave, "they could be even slower to return," should the company choose to send its future investment elsewhere, he argued.

hg/sri (Reuters, The Guardian)

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