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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
Chirac wants shared A380 job cuts
Jacques Chirac and Angela Merkel
Mr Chirac's comments came after he met with Angela Merkel
French President Jacques Chirac has said France and Germany should "harmoniously" share any job cuts at struggling planemaker Airbus.

His comments came after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Airbus, a subsidiary of Franco-German firm EADS, warned this week that it faces job cuts because of delays to its forthcoming A380 superjumbo.

The planemaker has two main plants in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany, but makes its wings in the UK.

Key shareholder

Mr Chirac said he backed Airbus' new boss, Frenchman Louis Gallois, who is also co-head of EADS.

Airbus A380
The A380's wings are made in the UK at Broughton, Flintshire

"The key to the success of the restructuring plan of Mr Gallois is that it has - of course - to be harmoniously shared between the two main sites, Hamburg and Toulouse," said Mr Chirac.

He also said any cuts had to "take full account of the interests of all the subcontractors who are working on the Airbus project in Germany and France".

The opinion of the French government on any Airbus job losses is important as it owns 15% of EADS.

'Nothing ruled out'

Ms Merkel said after the meeting with Mr Chirac that the German government may buy EADS shares if the main German shareholder - carmaker DaimlerChrysler - decides to sell any of its 22.5% holding.

DaimlerChrysler has said it would like to see its share of EADS fall to 15%, but that it would only sell with the backing of Berlin.

"We have taken no decision yet," said Ms Merkel.

"I don't rule anything out completely. But the most important thing is to get long term, reliable investors who feel responsibility towards the project."

The Spanish government has also said it is considering almost doubling its own 5.5% stake in EADS to safeguard the Airbus factories in its country.

Penalty payments

The A380 was supposed to usher in a new era of air travel and profitability that would establish Airbus as the world's top manufacturer of commercial jets.

But production of the aircraft has been hit by a series of delays and deliveries will currently be two years late.

In the UK, where EADS employs 13,000 workers and builds wings for its planes, unions have called on management to give assurances over jobs.

EADS has operations at Broughton, Flintshire, and Filton, Bristol.

The delays to the Airbus A380 are set to cost the company $6.1bn (3.3bn) over the next four years.

Airbus has sold 159 of the $250m jets to 16 airlines, many of whom are already demanding penalties for late delivery.

Airbus is set to announce job losses in France and Germany

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