Airbus to cut 15 000 jobs to survive coronavirus crisis

Daniel Fowler
July 1, 2020

TOULOUSE, July 1 ― Airbus is cutting 15,000 jobs within a year, including 900 already earmarked in Germany, saying its future is at stake after the coronavirus outbreak paralysed air travel. The company noted that air traffic would not recover to pre-crisis levels until 2023.

Airbus's announcement came as union sources told AFP that French flag carrier Air France would cut 7,500 jobs by the end of 2022 as part of a cost-cutting drive that has gained new urgency in the wake of the pandemic.

The hardleft Force Ouvriere union and others said they would oppose any mandatory cuts.

"This is yet another act of industrial vandalism and a bad insult to our incredible United Kingdom workforce who deserve so much better from our government", Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said.

Airbus said it would work with its unions to limit the effect of the plan on the workforce by relying on "all available social measures", including voluntary departures, early retirement, and long-term partial unemployment arrangements "where appropriate".

Previously, rumors indicated that Airbus could cut from 10,000 to 12,000 jobs.

While he could not indicate how many people would be laid off, if any, he stated that the company will first go to the unions before undertaking any action.

France and Germany own 11% each of Airbus and Spain 4%, but since 2013 governance rules shield Airbus from direct state interference.

The cuts come as new aircraft sales are down and customers are deferring orders
The cuts come as new aircraft sales are down and customers are deferring orders

Now, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Airbus Guillaume Faury has provided an indication as to when the European manufacturer expects some sense of normality and a return to 2019-levels of business.

There was immediate political pushback in France, where the government of President Emmanuel Macron this month announced a €15 billion support package for aviation.

Airbus said it wanted a deal on the job cuts by 2021.

Airbus said in April it was reducing its output by a third, but has raised that to 40% as it presses the case for job cuts.

"We must now adopt more far-reaching measures" said Faury, adding that management was "fully committed to limiting the social impact of this adaptation".

About 37 per cent of the 135,000-strong Airbus workforce is due to retire this decade, led by veterans of its best-selling A320.

Airbus saw its share price hit a record high in January this year, just before the coronavirus pandemic caused havoc on the aviation industry.

Boeing said last month it was eliminating over 12,000 U.S. jobs, including 6,770 involuntary layoffs, after the pandemic aggravated woes caused by the grounding of its 737 MAX, which competes against the latest version of the A320.

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