Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. Picture: BALINT PORNECZI/BLOOMBERG
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. Picture: BALINT PORNECZI/BLOOMBERG

Airbus is considering reduced working time in production areas in France over the next two years to help the European plane maker limit job losses prompted by a collapse in global air travel due to Covid-19.

The move would help it preserve skills to restart single-aisle aircraft production at rates similar to last year between 2023 and 2025, Airbus human resources head for France, Donald Fraty, wrote in a letter sent to workers on Friday and seen by Bloomberg.

“Airbus faces an unprecedented crisis,” Fraty wrote, referring to an expert report on the economic situation presented to the works council on Thursday. “The prospects for resuming our activities are deeply uncertain.”

Airbus has pledged to slash 15,000 jobs across its operations, with France braced to absorb about one-third of those, as it grapples with an unprecedented industry slump in which almost all its airline customers have postponed or switched orders.

CEO Guillaume Faury stepped up warnings over jobs last week, saying the situation had worsened and carriers were in a more difficult situation after the summer holiday period than he had hoped.

The plane maker is seeking a majority agreement with staff that opens the way to furloughing and other tools that will lower the number of compulsory redundancies, Fraty wrote.

Voluntary severance

If approved, reduced working time would apply from January 1, with partial unemployment prolonged for everyone in France until the end of this year. The works council is due to decide on the plan on October 15.

More than 3,500 staff in France have already expressed an interest in voluntary severance, mostly based on age-related measures, according to Fraty.

“The end of the negotiations will not mark the end of our work. Quite the contrary. The fight to save Airbus will continue,” Fraty wrote. “The period ahead of us will be difficult.”

The human resources head added that he expects the government to provide research contributions for several projects, including its zero-emissions aircraft, which would also help to limit redundancies.


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