The aerospace giant plans to cut more than three thousand jobs as it aims to scale back production of its troubled A380 superjumbo and A400M military transporter — Europe's biggest civil and military plane projects.
The European planemaker said Wednesday up to 3,700 positions in France, Germany, Britain and Spain would be impacted by a cut in the production rates for the two aircraft, but without saying whether the posts were being cut or moved elsewhere.
Airbus plans to scale down deliveries of the under-selling A380 jet to six a year, and eight a year for the A400M military transporter. In a statement, the company said it was committed to managing the workforce reduction in "a responsible manner."
"The company is confident that it will be able to propose opportunities to most of the affected employees through programmes which are ramping up," it added.
Following a meeting with company executives, the biggest trade union representing Airbus staff, Force Ouvriere, said management wanted to slash 3,720 jobs while avoiding outright redundancies.
"At no moment was there any discussion of outright layoffs," union leader Jean-Marc Escourrou said, adding that temporary jobs and subcontractors would be the first to go.
Troubled plane projects
The redundancies include 1,900 in Germany, 850 in Spain and 470 in France. Britain will lose 450 jobs at the Filton factory in Bristol which builds wings for the A400M.
The military plane project is one of the most ambitious joint defence programs ever launched in Europe. Seven countries are involved: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey. However, it's been facing delays and cost overruns, forcing Airbus to take a charge of €1.3 billion on the A400M last year.
The A380, which is the world's largest passenger plane, has been hit by weak demand. In January, Airbus already had warned it would have to halt production of the A380 altogether unless it received new orders.
Emirates Airlines — already the biggest customer for the A380 with 101 in its fleet and 41 more on order — threw it a lifeline days later by striking a $16-billion deal to buy 36 more of the jets.
But the economics of the four-engine, 853-seat superjumbo have proved daunting, with airlines having to operate every flight at full capacity in order to make a profit.
Meanwhile, the company's US rival, Boeing, is betting on its Dreamliner plane, which is marketed as a more efficient plane that could be used for both medium and long-distance flights.
uhe/jd (Reuters, AFP)