Airbus is cutting 15 000 jobs within a year, including 900 already earmarked in Germany, saying its future is at stake after the coronavirus outbreak paralysed air travel.
Airbus is moving swiftly to counter damage caused by a 40% slump in its 55-billion-euro ($61.8 billion) jet business following the pandemic, balancing belt-tightening against aid offered by European governments and future priorities.
But it faces tough talks with governments as well as unions, which immediately pledged to fight compulsory redundancies. A 2008 restructuring triggered rare strikes and protests.
“It’s going to be a mighty battle to save jobs,” said Francoise Vallin of the CFE-CGC union.
Europe’s biggest aerospace group said it would cut 5 000 posts in France, 5 100 in Germany, 900 in Spain, 1 700 in the UK, and 1 300 elsewhere by mid-2021, for a core total of 14 000.
The broader tally includes another 900 job cuts planned before the crisis at its Premium AEROTEC unit in Germany.
On 3 June, Reuters reported reduced jet output pointed to cuts of 14 000 full-time posts. Earlier on Tuesday, French union sources predicted 15 000 cuts in total.
Britain’s Unite union called the measures “industrial vandalism.” France’s hard-left Force Ouvriere union and others said they would oppose mandatory cuts.
There was immediate political pushback in France, where the government of President Emmanuel Macron this month announced a 15-billion-euro support package for aviation.
“The number of job cuts announced by Airbus is excessive. We expect Airbus to fully use instruments put in place by the government to reduce job cuts,” a finance ministry source said.
Airbus refused to exclude sackings, but said it would first seek voluntary departures, early retirements and other measures. It wants to start implementing cuts this autumn and complete them next summer – a brisk deadline for such plans in Europe.
Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said the company had been left with no choice by the dire industry crisis.
“It is the reality we have to face and we are trying to give a long-term perspective to Airbus,” he told reporters.