Aerospace & Defense

Airbus Expected to Fire Thousands, Matching Boeing Job Cuts (Updated)

UPDATE: After the close of business in Europe Tuesday, Airbus announced that it will cut its global workforce by 15,000 no later than the summer of 2021. The company said that it does not expect air traffic to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels before 2023 or even as late as 2025.

Job losses are forecast to total 5,000 in France, 5,100 in Germany, 1,700 in the United Kingdom, 900 in Spain and 1,300 at other locations around the world.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury called the coronavirus pandemic “the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced.”

European aerospace giant Airbus is expected to announce as early as Tuesday a restructuring plan forced on the company by the staggering loss of business related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reuters has reported that between 14,000 and 20,000 job cuts are possible to the company’s current 135,000-strong workforce.

If the expectations are borne out, the cuts would be in the same ballpark as the 16,000 jobs Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) expects to shave from its 160,000-strong global workforce this year.

The coronavirus outbreak effectively has shut down international air travel and had reduced domestic travel by around 90% before lockdown rules relaxed somewhat social distancing regulations. About 70% of domestic airline capacity remains idle, however.

Airbus promised earlier this year that it would announce its restructuring plans by the end of July, but that date may now be out the window. The company took no new orders in May and delivered just 24 new planes to customers who have already parked thousands of planes. Boeing delivered just four new airplanes last month and cancellations topped new orders.

Both Boeing and Airbus had begun implementing plans to increase production when COVID-19 struck. While no new targets have yet been set, earlier goals of more than 50 planes a month from both companies have been completely erased.

The job cuts at Airbus are based on a reduction of 40% in new production for the next two years. Production may take as long as five years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

An Airbus official also said the company is slowing down its entry into the lucrative services business due to the downturn in air travel. Parked planes don’t need a lot of maintenance and repair. Airbus had originally planned to boost its services revenue to $10 billion by 2030.

Any proposed restructuring is likely to include early retirement bonuses for long-time Airbus employees. An official of France’s General Confederation of Labor (CGT) said the union would oppose outright redundancies, the term unions in Europe use to describe losing a job because there is no work available.