Airbus shedding 15,000 jobs, mostly in Europe

Marco Green
July 1, 2020

The world's largest manufacturer of aircraft is just one of a many companies to announce drastic cuts as the airline industry attempts to survive amid the coronavirus crisis, which brought much of the world's air travel to a halt in March.

But the plane maker faces tough talks with governments as well as unions, which immediately pledged to fight compulsory redundancies. A 2008 restructuring triggered rare strikes and some protests. Therefore, job reductions are unavoidable for the company. We have already seen tens of thousands of jobs across the aviation and aerospace sectors put at risk as a result of this crisis.

Unite, a manufacturing union in the United Kingdom, called the job cuts an "yet another act of industrial vandalism".

The French finance ministry Bercy said the cuts were "excessive". France's hard-left Force Ouvriere union and others said they would oppose any mandatory cuts.

There was immediate political pushback in France, where the government of President Emmanuel Macron weeks earlier announced a 15-billion-euro package of support for aviation.

The company is cutting 15,000 jobs across its global operations.

Airbus said it wants to start making the cuts within months, from this autumn.

Airbus refused to exclude sackings, but said it would first seek voluntary departures, early retirements and other measures. It targets a deal on the job cuts by 2021, seen as a brisk deadline for such plans in Europe.

"Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced", said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

On Tuesday, Faury said production in the months ahead is likely to be cut some more, though not significantly. The discrepancy reflects different ways of measuring output, based on labour used, rather than a new reduction in ouput.

"To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures", Faury said.

Faury said in a press teleconference that because commercial jet business activity is now 40% below pre-pandemic levels, the job cuts would be much worse without support Airbus is receiving from the European governments.

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In April 2020, which was so far the lowest point in terms of capacity for the industry during the current crisis, Airbus delivered only 14 aircraft out of the 75 that were planned.

Aside from the prospective 15,000 job cuts, many Airbus employees are now working part-time, with their respective governments paying them unemployment benefit for the hours not worked, through September and in some cases beyond.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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