While on Monday the chief executive officer (CEO) of Airbus Guillaume Faury stated that the company would announce any changes to its employee base in late-July, Airbus already indicated that 15,000 people would be laid off from the company.
Citing its response to the current coronacrisis, the company plans to reduce its workforce by 15,000 people no later than summer 2021. Airbus will conduct discussions with its unions, with the goal to conclude negotiations and start implementing the layoff scheme in autumn 2020.
The company plans to let go of 5,000 and 5,100 workers in France and Germany, respectively, with a further 900 positions in Spain, while Airbus’ United Kingdom-based workforce will be reduced by 1,700. Layoffs at sites in other countries, including Mobile, Alabama, United States and Tianjin, China Final Assembly Lines (FAL), will approximately number 1,300.
A further 900 positions will be cut at Premium AEROTEC, Airbus’ subsidiary in Germany that manufactures aircraft structures.
Airbus had already reduced its commercial production numbers by 40%, said the manufacturer’s press release. While the manufacturer was “grateful for the government support that has enabled the Company to limit” layoffs in the short-term, the long-term outlook did not anticipate a bright future for commercial aviation. The Toulouse, France-based commercial aircraft builder indicated that pre-pandemic traffic levels were expected to return before 2023, but potentially could only happen in late-2025.
The manufacturer does not rule out compulsory action, however, Airbus is prepared to negotiate with unions to limit the negative impact of the job reduction plan by implementing voluntary leave, early retirement, and long-term partial unemployment schemes.
Union leaders stated that they would refuse involuntary layoff proposals. The French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire reiterated his plea for Airbus to avoid “forced departures as much as possible”. He qualified the numbers presented by the manufacturer as “excessive”. Through an export credit deferral system, France has spent around €2 billion to try and preserve as many Airbus jobs as possible. Additionally, the French military accelerated orders for transport planes and helicopters, for a total of €600 million.