Airbus opens talks with unions about cutting jobs

The company is looking at production cuts as demand from struggling airlines weakens

An Airbus A321 NEO passenger aircraft, operated by China Southern Airlines Co., taxis near a fuselage section outside the Airbus SE factory in Hamburg, Germany, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Airbus secured just nine net orders in April and delivered 14 jetliners after airlines desperate for cash put off accepting new planes and clamped down on spending to deal with a crisis that could last several years. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Airbus is holding talks with unions about permanent job cuts after warning that it needs to rein in production amid a collapse in demand, a source told Bloomberg.

Discussions with labour groups have begun, though the number of positions to be eliminated hasn’t yet been decided, according to the source.

Airbus executives will thrash out details of the cuts on a call next week, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported. The measures may match a 10 per cent workforce reduction planned at Boeing, suggesting more than 10,000 of the European group's 134,000 staff may go, it said.

The company declined to comment on internal meetings.

“Over the last few weeks, Airbus has implemeted a number of financial, operational and social measures in order to adapt to the severe health and economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis,” the company said in a statement. “The company will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the future of Airbus in cooperation with its social partners.”

Chief executive Guillaume Faury has warned that Airbus faces tough decisions on permanent job cuts after temporarily laying off thousands of staff across plants in France, Germany, Britain and Spain.

It’s not clear whether recent extensions to government furlough programs will influence the company’s thinking or if it plans to move ahead now to slim down the payroll after slashing plane production by about a third.

A final decision on redundancies may delayed by negotiations with Airbus's unions, the Telegraph said.