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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 17:50 GMT
Airbus cutting 1,600 jobs in UK
Airbus wing
Airbus's UK plants specialise in making wings for the firm's aircraft
European planemaker Airbus has confirmed 1,600 UK job cuts over four years as it looks to reduce costs.

The company employs more than 11,000 staff in the UK at sites in Filton, Bristol, and in Broughton, North Wales, which specialise in producing wings.

Airbus has been forced to revamp its business after delays to its flagship A380 superjumbo project and because of a decline in value of the US dollar.

The UK job cuts are part of plans to shed 10,000 positions across Europe.

Airbus has about 57,000 workers in Europe and is expected to cut temporary employees on short-term contracts, in an effort to limit the effect of the redundancies on full-time Airbus staff.

Airbus UK managers have suggested the 1,600 job losses could be split 50-50 between the Filton and Broughton sites.

We are disappointed that the investment in Filton is not going to be made directly by the company, but through a risk-sharing partner
Amicus

Airbus also said it wanted to find a partner to help share development costs at its Filton and other European plants, and had already received some offers.

UK trade union Amicus said it was extremely disappointed by the job cuts, but added that the company "has given its assurance that it will work with the trade unions to ensure that there will be no compulsory redundancies".

'Trigger'

Airbus president and chief executive Louis Gallois said the company needed to face up to the reality that its business was in need of significant and far-reaching change.

Mr Gallois said that the "trigger" for the overhaul of Airbus was the production problems with the A380, which have pushed back deliveries of the plane by two years and cost the company about 5bn euros (3.4bn; $6.6bn).

But he said the core problem damaging Airbus's competitiveness was the weakness of the US dollar. The firm, he said, needed to finance the development and production of its new A350 plane.

The plans have proven controversial in Germany and France, which will bear the brunt of the job cuts.

France will be worst hit with 4,300 job losses. Germany will see 3,700 jobs go, while Spain will see 400 jobs cut.

Some Airbus workers staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest against the company's plans.

Helping hand

Mr Gallois said that one of the biggest problems facing Airbus was that it did not have partners to invest in the development of new products, meaning that the company had to find huge amounts of money to finance its operations.

In future, Airbus would look to develop the sort of partnerships that its main rivals were already benefiting from, Mr Gallois said.

As part of the initiative, Airbus said it would consider an industrial partnership at its plant in Filton to "facilitate development from metallic to composite design and manufacturing technology".

Airbus also will restructure its internal divisions, cutting them from eight to four, with wing operations based in the UK.

According to Amicus, these decisions were mixed news.

"We are disappointed that the investment in Filton is not going to be made directly by the company, but through a risk-sharing partner, and that we have some concerns around the future ownership," the union said.

"That said, Filton will gain a foothold in composite technology that is vital in securing its future and that of UK manufacturing."

It went on to say that it was "pleased Broughton has been reaffirmed as the wing-manufacturing centre of excellence and that significant work from the A350 will be done there".

The Labour MP for Alyn and Deeside, Mark Tami, has said the cuts could have been worse for Broughton and hoped the jobs could be lost voluntarily or through natural wastage over four years.

He said: "I don't think we're in a situation where the company is looking to forcibly get people out of the company. The period of time does allow people to decide themselves when they go."

Commenting on the Broughton job losses, Flintshire councillor Derek Butler, responsible for economic regeneration, said he was "gratified that there won't be any manufacturing loss" and was "upbeat" about the site's future.

AIRBUS EUROPEAN PLANTS
Airbus plants in Europe
FRANCE
1. Toulouse: (11,500 staff). Cabin and cargo. Electrics, nose, fuselage, wings.
2. Saint Nazaire: (2,300) Nose, centre fuselage.
*Faces sell-off or closure
3. Nantes: (2,000)
Nose, centre fuselage.
4. Meaulte: (1,200)
Nose, centre fuselage.
*Open to investors
GERMANY
5. Hamburg: (10,000)
Cabin and cargo. Electrics. Fuselage assembly.
6. Buxtehude: (350)
Cabin and cargo. Communication systems.
7. Stade: (1,500)
Vertical tail. Design, manufacture, assembly.
8. Bremen: (3,100)
Cabin and cargo. Fuselage design, production.
9. Nordenham: (2,100) Manufacture of fuselage. *Open to investors
10. Varel: (1,100)
Machining fuselage parts.
*Faces sell-off or closure
11. Laupheim: (1,100)
Cabin and cargo. Design and manufacture.
*Faces sell-off or closure
SPAIN
12. Getafe: (2,000) Horizontal tail, A380 rear fuselage. Assembly.
13. Puerto Real: (500) Horizontal tail and A380 rear fuselage. Production.
14. Illescas: (500)
Horizontal tail and A380 rear fuselage. Development.
UK
15. Filton: (6,500)
Electrics and wing. Design.
*Open to investors
16. Broughton: (5,000) Wing. Assembly, manufacture.




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