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Last Updated: Friday, 23 February 2007, 14:55 GMT
Airbus 'must spread any cutbacks'
Airbus A380 plane

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac have agreed to spread the pain of job cuts and restructuring at Airbus.

Mr Chirac said there should be an "equitable distribution" of the measures needed to reorganise Airbus.

He noted that any job losses or site closures had to entail compensation.

The competitiveness of the company would be the most important factor in future planning, Chancellor Merkel said at a joint news conference.

AIRBUS EUROPEAN PLANTS
Toulouse: 11,500 staff
Saint Nazaire: 2,300
Nantes: 2,000
Meaulte: 1,200
Hamburg: 10,000
Bremen: 3,100
Nordenham: 2,100
Stade: 1,500
Buxtehude: 350
Laupheim: 1,100
Getafe: 2,000
Cadiz: 500
Madrid: 500
Filton: 6,500
Broughton: 5,000

The German and French leaders spoke after a joint meeting with the management of the embattled planemaker near Berlin.

UK jobs

Thousands of jobs across Europe are at stake as Airbus restructures its operations in the wake of delays in its key A380 superjumbo programme.

Two UK plants, employing 11,500 people, are regarded as vulnerable to any consolidation of Airbus.

The UK sites, dedicated to aircraft wing design and manufacture, are at Filton, Bristol and Broughton, North Wales.

EADS has said its board would make a decision on the restructuring by the end of this month.

Reports have suggested that Airbus could cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 57,000-strong workforce.

Lobbying

The meeting of the leaders is taking place in Germany, with each government keen to minimise the losses in their nation.

One idea under discussion is a plan to give Germany a greater share of work on the next model A320 jet in return for reducing its demands for work on the upcoming A350 plane.

Germany had expressed concern that its 21,000 Airbus workers would be worst hit.

Airbus had been due to announce a major overhaul of the business on Tuesday, but this was postponed amid disagreement between its various European owners.

France, Germany, the UK and Spain, all home to Airbus factories, have been unable to agree on future contracts.

Government ministers and union officials from all four countries have been lobbying Airbus bosses in recent days, fearing that plants in their countries will bear the brunt of the cuts.

Costly delays to the A380 superjumbo have hit the company's finances.

Parent firm EADS says Airbus needs to reduce its costs by 5bn euros (3.4bn) by 2010 to boost productivity and make up for the losses from the delays to the flagship project.

Further savings after 2010 - in the region of 2bn euros a year - are also likely.

Airbus' main factory is in Toulouse, where the firm is based.

Among its German plants, the company employs more than 10,000 staff in Hamburg, where final assembly of three models takes place.


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