Airbus has today announced it will suspend production of its products at its sites in both France and Spain. These suspensions will last for a period of four days, and are to give the planemaker time to implement ‘stringent health and safety conditions’. Sources at the planemaker have said it could seek government support, should the coronavirus situation persist for many more months.
Airbus to suspend production today
In a statement sent to Simple Flying, Airbus has revealed it is planning to temporarily pause production and assembly at both its French and Spanish sites. The suspension will take place for four days starting from today.
The company says that this suspension will allow it enough time to implement “stringent health and safety conditions in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing, while improving the efficiency of operations under the new working conditions.”
It says it is looking to implement home working where possible in both facilities. However, clearly in an aircraft assembly plant, there are only so many people who will be able to work from home. It says it is working with social partners to bring in the changes.
The Spanish Airbus sites employ approximately 3,400 people, and are involved in producing the horizontal stabilizers for the entire Airbus range. Sites are also producing components of the empennage and aft fuselage for commercial aircraft and for the Eurofighter combat plane. Albacete and Getafe also employ 500 people for the rotary wing Airbus range, and its defense and space sites are responsible for some 7,700 employees.
Over in France is Airbus’ main Toulouse assembly plant, which builds the A350 as well as other types. At its headquarters, Airbus employs 28,000 people and, across all of France, it is responsible for more than 48,000 jobs. When its suppliers are also taken into account, that number balloons to more than 63,000 people.
The manufacturer has not released any details on whether employees will continue to be paid or not.
Could seek government support
Almost simultaneously with the announcement of the production shutdown came an exclusive from Reuters which suggests that Airbus could be seeking government support, should the coronavirus situation continue for an extended period.
Sources told the publication that, should the current situation persist for several more months, the manufacturer could struggle to make ends meet. The company has reportedly been in crisis talks yesterday with Germany’s economy ministry.
Details of the type and level of support have not been disclosed, although options are likely to include additional liquidity. This may involve solutions such as state guaranteed credits, the sources said. An Airbus spokesperson told Reuters,
“We are having regular dialogues with our home nation governments which are all non-public in nature which is why we do not comment on them.”
With airlines around the world beginning to request delays on their aircraft deliveries, stopping production for a short period seems a logical solution for the planemaker. However, should things persist longer, an extended shutdown could be disastrous for both Airbus and for airlines in the queue for new aircraft in the future.
State aid could certainly help Airbus weather the current storm, but with many airlines and a multitude of other industries all holding out their hands for help, the world’s governments will have a tough time choosing who to help, and who to let down.
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