Just a few months ago, Airbus was struggling to build aircraft fast enough. The Covid-19 crisis has had an enormous impact on aircraft manufacturers. The European aircraft manufacturer recently announced that it is reducing the amount of aircraft it produces by a third. Airbus is bringing production of its A320 down from 60 per month to 40, its A330s to two and the A350 to six. Chief Executive Guillaume Faury recently said the manufacturer was ‘bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed’.
The company has announced that 3200 employees at its Broughton plant in North Wales will be furloughed on the UK governments ‘coronavirus job retention scheme’. This means the UK government will pay up to 80% of employees salaries up to £2500, with Airbus topping this up another 5% to 10%. Airbus employs around 13,500 workers in the UK and around 135,000 worldwide. The French government has also stepped in to help Airbus by furloughing 3000 of Airbus’s French employees.
Faury has said that further job cuts cannot be ruled out. He said ‘We may now need to plan for more far-reaching measures, That’s because of the sheer magnitude of this crisis and its likely duration […] The survival of Airbus is in question if we don’t act now’. There is a high chance of job cuts in the coming days as Airbus announce their first-quarter results.
Tough times ahead
This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for all of those employed in the aviation industry. The hope is that demand will return slowly and Airbus will be able to make an eventual return to full capacity but most predictions consider this to be years ahead. In the meantime, the question is surely how long governments can afford to keep paying ‘furlough’ salaries.