Airbus has announced the end of production of its A380 superjumbo transport aircraft after failing to secure its orders – a decision that jeopardizes jobs in the UK.
The European aerospace group said it had made the "difficult" decision to stop making the world's biggest superjumbo in 2021 after Emirates, the largest A380 customer, reduced the exceptional order for 53 aircraft to only 14.
Instead, Emirates will order 70 of the smaller A330 and A350 aircraft, highlighting the trend towards smaller and more efficient plane this made the A380 untenable.
The cancellation of the Airbus A380 will affect nearly 3,500 Airbus employees, including about 300 at its Broughton, North Wales plant, which builds the model's wings.
the Broughton Site at about 6000 employeeswhile there are 3,000 left in Filton, near Bristol, some of which are working on landing gear and fuel systems on the A380. However, Airbus said that a "significant number" of staff would switch to the production of other more popular models and that significant job losses in the UK are not expected at the following this announcement.
Rhys McCarthy, National Aerospace Manager at Unite, said the union wanted to secure the guarantee from Airbus that there would be no job losses. He added that companies in the A380 supply chain, including GKN, based in Redditch, were a "major concern."
Tom Enders, the outgoing CEO of Airbus, said the cancellation was "painful for us". "We do not have a large A380 backlog and therefore no basis for maintaining our production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years."
Speaking at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, la FranceEnders said the effect on jobs in the UK "must be evaluated". "Let's hope we can reuse and redeploy a significant number of employees there," he said.
"What we see here is the end of the big four-engine aircraft," said Enders, who admitted that the company had put a decade behind the development of the superjumbo. Boeing, the American rival of Airbus, celebrated this month 50 years of production of its 747.
The A380 engines are produced at Derby by Rolls-Royce, another big British employer in the aerospace sector, although it is thought that the impact on jobs in the UK will be small.
In a statement, Chris Cholerton, President of Civil Aerospace Rolls-Royce, said: "The A380 is a world-renowned engineering feat, highly valued by passengers, and we are saddened by the end of the day. deliveries. "
Airbus said that more than 190 million passengers had traveled in the A380 since the first plane pulled off the assembly line from Toulouse, France, in 2007. However, the plane, which can theoretically carry up To 800 passengers, has difficulty in achieving profitability. the demand for medium-sized jets has exploded.
Airbus, which also announced Thursday higher than expected earnings for 2018, plans to speed up production of its smaller models even as the A380 is down. It targets between 880 and 890 deliveries of aircraft to its customers in 2019, an increase of 10% from its record of 800 in 2018.
The cancellation of the A380 will however add an additional element of uncertainty for the future of British activities already threatened by the prospect of a Brexit without agreement. Enders last month decried "the madness of Brexiteers", stating that future investment decisions would be influenced if Brexit resulted in significant trade frictions.
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Enders said Thursday that the "voices of reason" would prevail, avoiding a Brexit without agreement. Last June, Airbus announced that each week of production delay would cost € 1bn (about £ 880m). The company and its suppliers have established buffer stocks of around € 1 billion, according to June estimates.
Enders said: "Looking at the situation as it is, I am still optimistic about the possibility of finding a solution to avoid a cliff fall."
The end of the A380 could free space at Airbus facilities in Toulouse and Hamburg, where final assembly is underway, which will give them a boost in the competition for business with the UK. However, Enders has denied reports that Spain has formally proposed to take over British production after Brexit.
The end of the A380 comes at a crucial time for Airbus, after the defeat against its American rival Boeing during the race for aircraft deliveries in 2018. Guillaume Faury, former helicopter engineer turned president of commercial aircraft Airbus February 2018, will replace Enders as General Manager in April.
Faury said the Brexit risks were "huge" in the short and long term, with Airbus being the main risk of falling behind the British border with the rest of the EU.