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A grey cloud is hanging over Airbus headquarters in ToulouseImage: AP

Airbus to Slash Jobs

DW staff (sp)
February 1, 2007

A report says plane maker Airbus has decided to slash jobs and sell some manufacturing sites. Separately, Hamburg says it will take a share in a consortium buying a stake in parent company EADS.


Amid reports that the world's largest plane maker, Airbus, is planning a tough cost-cutting operation, the German city-state of Hamburg confirmed Thursday that it will take a 10-percent share in a consortium acquiring the 7.5-percent stake in parent company EADS. The stake is being sold by German-US auto giant, DaimlerChrysler.

Based on the current share price of 25.83 euros ($33.6), Hamburg's stake would be worth 160 million euros.The two neighboring north German states of Lower Saxony and Bremen have already signaled their intention to invest 80 million euros and 30 million euros respectively in the acquisition of the stake.

Germany is currently represented in EADS via a 22.5-percent share held by DaimlerChrysler.

All countries will be "equally unhappy"

Germany's Oldenburg-based newspaper Nordwest Zeitung reported Thursday that Thomas Enders, co-chief of the EADS, which fully owns Airbus, had said the France-based plane maker would sell off production sites.

In an earlier online report, the paper said Enders only planned to keep those Airbus plants involved in the final assembly or those that make components. Other manufacturing sites would be sold to trim bloated personnel costs and some 10,000 Airbus jobs would be axed.

Thomas Enders, Geschäftsführer von EADS
EADS co- head Thomas Enders has hinted at painul cost-cuttingImage: AP

"Nobody in Germany will be happy about what will be decided," the paper quoted Enders as saying. But he also said he expected "everybody will be equally unhappy" in all the countries that are home to Airbus plants.

Addressing some 300 guests -- including German parliamentarians and representatives of the aviation industry -- at the Lower Saxony embassy in Berlin on Wednesday, Enders spoke of tough cuts in order to push through a restructuring program called "Power 8," which aims to lower costs and make Airbus more competitive for the future.

Enders, however, is said to have played down fears that Airbus production sites in Germany would be affected. "There are no decisions at this point," Enders was quoted to have said.

EADS says it's all speculation

But spokesman for Airbus parent company EADS, Michael Hauger told AP news agency that though Enders had spoken of "tough cuts," he had also stressed that the rumors about job cuts and closing of production plants were pure speculation.

Hauger added that Airbus management was still looking into the "Power 8" program, which would then have to be presented to EADS bosses Enders and Louis Gallois before the company's supervisory board could have its final say.

"Everything that you hear before that is speculation," Hauger said.

Airbus Fertigung in Hamburg
Some 2,000 to 4,000 jobs could be axed at the Airbus plant in HamburgImage: AP

But reports of massive job losses and the closing down of entire production plants are already doing the rounds in Germany.

Horst Niehus, a works council leader at the company's Hamburg factory told union members in a memo that the Toulouse-based plane maker may sell manufacturing sites, buy more parts from outside suppliers and move work now done in Germany to France.

"Should all scenarios be realized, it is expected that 5,000 through 8,000 jobs will be lost at Airbus Germany and 2,000 through 4,000 at Hamburg," Niehus said in the report.

Airbus plans to slash 2.1 billion euros ($2.7 billion) from annual costs by 2010. EADS has said the plane maker will record its first full-year loss ever for 2006 because of cost overruns on its A380, which is at least two years behind schedule.

Minister says Germany will fight to save jobs

German Economics Minister Michael Glos said Wednesday he will insist on a fair distribution of the burden resulting from Airbus' restructuring measures.

"I will do everything possible to call on the French partner and those who run Airbus to make sure that any job cuts will be in both countries and not to the disadvantage of German sites," Glos said. "I will listen to the worries and help wherever I can within a government framework.

"Germany must get a share in present and future production that corresponds with its weight (in the company)," he added. "The German government will lobby for the German business location with all its power -- also in its role as one of EADS' biggest contractors."

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