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POST-COVID ECONOMY

Airbus announces 15,000 job cuts, a third to come from France

European multinational aeronautics company Airbus, whose head office is in the French city of Toulouse, announced this week it would shed 15,000 jobs as part of post-coronavirus restructuring efforts.
European multinational aeronautics company Airbus, whose head office is in the French city of Toulouse, announced this week it would shed 15,000 jobs as part of post-coronavirus restructuring efforts. © AFP/Archives

European aeronautics giant Airbus has announced it will shed 15,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, which grounded flights and shook up the global air industry. The French government has asked the company to minimise forced job losses.

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Airbus announced the job cuts as part of a restructuring plan it said was needed to help weather an economic crisis it expected to worsen in an industry hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has, unfortunately, now become clear that the crisis the aviation sector is facing will be of a length and magnitude that calls for more structural and wide-ranging actions,” CEO Guillaume Faury in a video posted to social media late Monday.

“Given the scale of the crisis and the share of our business that has disappeared for the foreseeable future…we consider that a reduction of positions cannot be avoided.”

The redundancy plan targets 5,000 jobs in France and an equal number in Germany, where an additional 900 jobs are to be lost under a previous plan.

The job losses under the new plan are expected by summer 2021.

'Minimise redundancies'

After announcing 15 billion euros in loans and guarantees for the air industry last month, including 7 billion for flag carrier Air France, the French government is keen to put pressure on the companies to ensure they save as many jobs as possible.

“The state urges Airbus to ensure that there are as few forced redundancies as possible,” Junior Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told BFM television.

Djebbari estimated the state rescue funds could save 2,000 of the jobs targeted in France through a long-term reduced-work scheme and through investment in newer, cleaner planes.

The minister also said Air France would announce plans to shed nearly 7,600 jobs this week and called on the airline to minimise compulsory redundancies as well.

“It’s not 7 billion euros to pay for redundancy programmes. It’s 7 billion for survival, to pay salaries at the end of the month.”

The French state owns 11 percent of Airbus and 14.3 percent of Air France-KLM.

Airbus warns of national animosities

Airbus is a European multinational company generally considered the main competitor of US planemaker Boeing.

Its head office is located near the French city of Toulouse, with manufacturing in France, Britain, Germany and Spain, as well as Canada, China and the United States.

The company’s last restructuring in 2008 provoked changes in governance and management that saw French and German staff blaming each other from problems, and Faury warned against national or regional animosities among staff over the new restructuring.

“The last thing we need on top of Covid-19 is finger-pointing between colleagues along national or local lines,” read a letter seen by Reuters agency.

“That would be unhelpful, unjustified and contrary to the DNA of our company.”

(with newswires)

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