Airbus is stopping production and assembly activities at plants in France and Spain for the next four days as governments implement new measures to restrict movements and fight the coronavirus outbreak.
The move appears to mark the most serious across-the-board disruption in Airbus production since a strike at then British partner BAE Systems in 1989, apart from problems with individual programmes like the Airbus A380 or A400M military aircraft.
“This will allow sufficient time to implement stringent health and safety conditions in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing, while improving the efficiency of operations under new working conditions,” Airbus said in a statement.
Reuters reported earlier Airbus had drawn up contingency plans to slow or stop production if France was placed under lockdown due to coronavirus.
France’s aerospace capital of Toulouse is home to Airbus’s largest assembly plants as well its headquarters.
Factories in Britain, where Airbus makes wings, or Germany, where it has its second-largest cluster of assembly lines, can continue to operate, but the rate at which they produce parts and assemble aircraft has not been announced.
Deliveries have been disrupted as crisis-hit airlines hold back from taking aircraft to conserve cash, industry sources say.