Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Is Airbus getting ready to pull out of the UK?

The Airbus CEO has given his most unambiguous warning yet that Airbus could pull out of the UK completely over the next few years as a result of Brexit.

Speaking in the Finacial Times, Tom Enders threatened the UK with the ominous warning that "Britain must realise that future investments are not a given.". It's his most outspoken attack on Brexit and most unveiled warning to the UK government and the UK staff of Airbus that the future is far from certain.  Airbus currently employs around 15,000 in the UK, mainly producing the wings for all the various Airbus commercial aircraft, spread over 25 sights and according to Enders, supports 117,000 jobs in total.

He demanded more information from the UK Government "We must have more clarity on the UK's long-term relationships, not just for the next twenty months" he said.  "It's no good making the right noises. We need a plan that comes from the UK but is also accepted by the EU27. - In these negotiations, the EU will need to offer some flexibility but the UK must also be realistic."

Airbus is also making plans and looking at transferring operations out of the UK should the final Brexit agreement not be good for the aviation sector. We've been informed by a member of Airbus staff in France that the company's 'opération exode' is specifically looking at where to relocate the 10,000 jobs currently employed at Airbus UK's Filton and Broughton sites to alternative European locations.  It is believed the helicopter and defence sides of the company would also move to different European sites, possibly in Italy or Germany. Also, in recent months long-term building and site maintenance and facility management contracts in the UK have either been cancelled or postponed, the Airbus employee informed us.  

Airbus has recently had high-level, yet low-key talks at the Ministère de l'économie et des finances - the ministry for economy and finance that also looks after industry. The meeting was, we're told, to look at how to help Airbus expand its operations within France.