The Chief Executive of Airbus, Guillaume Faury, has injected some optimism into the UK’s uncertain post-Brexit future. Speaking at the company’s New Year’s reception in London yesterday, Faury affirmed the company’s intention to continue manufacturing its wings in the UK and even hinted at possible expansion later in the year.
Airbus will stay in the UK
The ongoing saga of Brexit is set to reach a milestone later this month, with the UK set to leave the EU on January 31st. The lack of clarity on exactly how things will work after it happens has led to speculation on everything from flying rights to job security. However, one major UK employer has given its British workers a modicum of confidence this week.
Airbus has signaled that it is keen to continue making wings in the UK, even after the nation leaves the EU. Indeed, its CEO Guillaume Faury has been reported by Bloomberg as showing signs of wanting to expand in the UK once Brexit has happened. He is quoted as saying,
“Airbus is committed to the U.K. and to working with the new government on an ambitious industrial strategy.”
Airbus currently employs over 13,500 individuals across 25 sites in the UK. In addition to this, it supports more than 100,000 jobs in the supply chain. Previously, under ex-CEO Tom Enders, the company claimed it might abandon its UK arm in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Now, however, it seems Airbus is firmly behind the UK, and has no plans to leave.
Expansion on the cards
Currently Airbus relies on the UK to make wings for all models of its aircraft. The fabrication is done at a number of sites, with the main ones being close to Bristol, Chester and Belfast. Design and early parts of the fabrication take place in Filton, Bristol and at the Belfast plant, operated by Spirit AeroSystems, while the main assembly takes place in Broughton near Chester.
With orders backing up for all Airbus’ models, the work just keeps coming for these plants. Indeed, Faury noted his commitment to the UK and indicated there could be some expansion on the cards in 2020, saying,
“We see great potential to improve and expand our operations in the UK this year.”
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Andrea Leadsom, was also at the event, and didn’t hold back in declaring her happiness at Airbus’ continued support in the UK. She said,
“While Airbus is undoubtedly a European company – it’s also something of a national treasure. For decades, the UK has had the privilege – and it is a privilege – of being one of Airbus’s 4 ‘home nations’. And it was great to hear Guillaume say that Airbus remains committed to the UK. So please rest assured that we also remain absolutely committed to Airbus – and to the industry as a whole.”
Leadsom also noted that the UK would continue to support Airbus and the EU in its efforts to negotiate a settlement in the clash between Airbus and the US over illegal subsidies.
Although the UK is still waiting to find out exactly what lies ahead on the other side of the Brexit door, Airbus, for now at least, is voting confidently to keep building wings in the nation.