Airbus joined virtually every other aviation manufacturer in announcing job cuts to align with an expectedly long period of reduced air travel and, therefore, demand for aircraft. The company will cut 15,000 jobs between this fall and the summer of 2021. “The commercial aircraft business activity has dropped by close to 40% in recent months as the industry faces an unprecedented crisis,” the company said in a statement. “Commercial aircraft production rates have been adapted accordingly. Airbus is grateful for the government support that has enabled [Airbus] to limit these necessary adaptation measures. However with air traffic not expected to recover to pre-COVID levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025, Airbus now needs to take additional measures to reflect the post COVID-19 industry outlook.”
The bulk of the layoffs will happen in France and Germany, roughly 5,000 in each country, with an additional 900 positions in Spain, 1,700 jobs in the U.K. and 1,300 jobs spread across Airbus’ global divisions. The company says it will offer options beyond layoffs, including “voluntary departures, early retirement, and long term partial unemployment schemes where appropriate.”
“Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic. Now, we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers. To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures.”
Airbus was seen as the beneficiary of Boeing’s troubles with the 737 MAX, inking orders for its A320-series aircraft in the vacuum created by the MAX’s grounding. However, the dramatic downturn in air travel as the result of COVID-19 has wilted demand for new and replacement airliners. Boeing started day two of its MAX flight tests with the FAA today, though the agency has said it is in no hurry to allow the jet to return to commercial service.