The European automaker’s job cuts in the UK are expected to mainly affect the large factory in Broughton, North Wales, which produces wings for commercial aircraft such as the A320 and A350.
When compulsory redundancies are included, it is likely that job losses in the UK will be several times higher.
One option was to offer voluntary redundancy to 500 workers, focusing on those nearing retirement, said someone familiar with the discussions. However, another source warned that no final decision had been made and that this was just one of the many options as the manufacturer prepared for years of declining demand.
Airbus announced in April that it would reduce the number of aircraft manufactured by a third. Airlines around the world have canceled or delayed orders for new aircraft because their fleets have been frozen.
The production cuts have led to the expectation of thousands of job cuts in Airbus’s global operations.
Boeing, the American rival to Airbus, has announced that it will cut a tenth of its 160,000 employees worldwide, and 12,000 cuts have already been made. Bombardier, which makes business jets, announced Friday that it will cut 2,500 jobs, mostly in Canada. Rolls-Royce, the British jet engine maker, plans to cut 9,000 jobs and a voluntary layoff plan is underway.
Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, said it could take five years for demand for commercial aviation to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Airbus has already significantly reduced the number of subcontractors at Broughton. About 500 workers employed by the recruitment agency Guidant have been informed that they will not return to work.
Airbus employed 14,000 workers in the UK before the crisis, including 6,000 in Broughton. Worldwide, the company has 135,000 employees, with bases in France, Spain and Germany, where discussions with workers’ representatives are underway.
The company has made extensive use of the UK government’s job retention program. About 3,000 workers were put on leave at Broughton, with Airbus earning between 85% and 90% of total wages.
Workers at Filton, north of Bristol, would be less exposed due to their role in the design of fenders and fuel systems, although some prominent development programs have already been canceled, including the electric plane project EFan-X, which would be a key element in efforts to reduce aviation emissions.
Other options being considered to keep Airbus jobs include returning suppliers to work. However, the scope of this action would be limited, given the constraints on machines and workers with the necessary skills.
An Airbus spokesperson said the airline did not comment on speculation related to internal meetings or decisions.
The spokesperson said: “As society has shared on several occasions in recent weeks, we are currently studying possible additional measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, in full cooperation with our social partners. No final decision has been made on the next steps and any further action will first be discussed with our social partners. “