Unions Expect Significant Airbus Job Cuts To Be Announced

Airbus is expected to announce on Tuesday that it is cutting thousands of jobs as part of its restructuring measures. The cuts come as the company attempts to deal with the impact of falling orders due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Airbus, 2019, Deliveries
Airbus is expected to cut thousands of jobs. Photo: Getty Images

Airbus expected to cut thousands of jobs

Reuters reported today that it expects Airbus to announce an imminent restructuring plan to deal with the drop in production caused by the coronavirus crisis. Union officials say that the program will cost thousands of jobs. Unions are opposing outright redundancies with Xavier Petrachi of the CGT union saying,

“Airbus will announce measures that could have strong employment consequences.”

Although Airbus has declined to comment directly on the job losses, the company said that, after introducing temporary furloughs, it would announce fresh action by the end of July.

It is estimated that between 14,000 and 20,000 jobs could be lost. However, with 37% of the Airbus workforce due to retire over the next ten years, a proportion of the losses could be achieved through early retirements.

Simple Flying reached out to Airbus for comment. A spokesman told us,

“This crisis is unprecedented in its magnitude and duration. We cannot neglect the severe market downturn the industry is currently facing, and we have to protect our capability to resurface/emerge as industry leader again coming out of the crisis. We should be in a position to communicate more details about these measures before the end of July.”

A380 engine
Jobs could be lost in Britain, France, Spain, and Germany. Photo: Getty Images

Airbus restructuring is surrounded by secrecy

It was reported on Monday that the restructuring at Airbus would be based on its jet production being held at 40% below its pre-coronavirus plans for two years. Output could be kept lower than previously planned levels for up to five years. A European works council due to be held today has the health of the Airbus group on its agenda.

However, the politically sensitive restructuring plans are surrounded by unprecedented secrecy as jobs in France, Germany, Spain, and Britain come under threat. In the company’s fierce rivalry with Boeing for orders, these nations are its principal backers.

The manufacturer will consult unions about the status of aircraft orders and cancellations, but it will have to measure its response to the crisis. With France and Germany having announced plans to support the aerospace industry, Airbus is under pressure to keep cuts to a minimum.

Airbus A321 test
Airbus output to be reduced for up to five years. Photo: Getty Images

Industry-wide crisis

Despite the signs of a slow recovery from the pandemic, the aviation industry has been among the hardest hit amid the ongoing travel restrictions. As airlines keep much of their fleets grounded, orders for new aircraft are being canceled or delayed.

Consequently, as aircraft manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing slow production and attempt to reduce costs for the foreseeable future, the whole supply chain is affected. It was reported earlier in June that Boeing had requested its suppliers to cut production, causing further woes.

The coronavirus crisis has bitten deep, and the effects are going to felt for a long time to come. Even now, restrictions are being reintroduced in some places, which tells us that COVID-19 will not disappear any time soon.

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