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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 12:24 GMT
Airbus job cuts 'must be shared'
Airbus A380 in flight
The A380 project has caused Airbus some difficulties
Germany has pledged to fight against the country's Airbus plants being disproportionately hit by expected job cuts at the aircraft-maker.

The comments of Economy Minister Michael Glos come a week before Airbus is due to unveil a key restructuring plan on 20 February.

Germany is fearful it may bear the brunt of cuts, as Airbus' headquarters and core assembly site is in France.

Airbus' main UK union is also meeting the firm over redundancy fears.

'German product'

"The Airbus is also a German product and not just a French one - and we will keep an eye on that," said Mr Glos ahead of talks on Tuesday with bosses at Airbus and its pan-European parent firm EADS.

"We will go into the negotiations self-confidently," said Mr Glos. "We are, after all, the largest customer for EADS on the military side."

There has long been a delicate French-German balance at EADS.

Germany has voiced concern in the past that the French government has too much influence at EADS, and therefore also Airbus, because Paris jointly owns a 29.96% share in EADS, together with French company Lagardere.

While the German government does not directly own a stake in EADS, German influence on the firm comes through carmaker and shareholder DaimlerChrysler.

However, DaimlerChrysler last week reduced its shareholding in EADS from 22.5% to 15%.

It sold the 7.5% stake to a consortium of German banks and regional German governments.

UK operations

The expected job cuts at Airbus come after much-publicised delays to its forthcoming A380 super jumbo.

Airbus employs a total of 57,000 workers.

In addition to its main final assembly base in Toulouse, it also completes planes in Hamburg, and makes various components at other factories across Europe.

Airbus designs and makes its wings at two sites in the UK - Filton, near Bristol, and Broughton in north Wales.

It employs about 8,000 people in the UK as a whole.

The Amicus union confirmed its representatives were meeting Airbus bosses later on Tuesday to discuss the planned restructuring announcement.

UK defence group BAE Systems used to own a 20% stake in Airbus, but it sold this to EADS for 2.75bn euros (1.87bn; $3.53bn) in August last year, giving EADS full ownership.

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