Spain agrees ‘rescue plan’ to save aerospace jobs

AIRBUX18012601247001w [EFE/ Rodrigo Jiménez]

The Spanish government, trade unions, and employer’s associations announced on Wednesday (3 February) an emergency rescue plan to maintain production capacity in the country’s aerospace factories and save thousands of jobs, mainly in the Spanish branch of EU manufacturer Airbus. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.

The emergency plan was agreed by the Spanish government, the “Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales” (SEPI), a Spanish state holding controlled by the finance ministry, Spain’s two main trade unions, UGT and CC.OO, and the employers’ association of Defence, Security, Aeronautics and Space industries (Tedae).

Spain’s emergency plan has six stages, including the modernisation of production plants, a fund to support the supply chain, a stable budgetary framework, investments in R&D, support for vocational training, and a commitment to employment, the country’s industry, trade and tourism ministry said.

The plan’s main aim is to protect a “strategic sector” that has been heavily impacted by the current health and economic crisis, the Spanish government stressed on Wednesday.

Due to travel restrictions, airlines have been forced to reduce the expansion of their aircraft fleet, and have asked to be rescued with public money.

The plan was being negotiated since mid-2020, but it needed the approval of the SEPI and Spain’s finance ministry, EFE reported.

Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs as virus bites hard

Airbus on Tuesday (30 June) unveiled plans to shed 15,000 jobs within a year, including 900 already earmarked in Germany, saying its future was at stake after the coronavirus outbreak paralysed air travel.

A heavily impacted aeronautics sector

The COVID-19 pandemic has badly hit Europe’s aeronautics sector, with massive swapping of aircraft orders, many of them models assembled or partially manufactured in  Airbus factories located in Spain, such as the A320 or the A350 models.

Airbus stopped productions of the A380 aircraft known as the “superjumbo” in 2019, after the plane’s top customer, Dubai-based Emirates Airline, had cut its orders. The Airbus factory in Puerto Real, Cádiz (Andalusia) was responsible for the final assembly and functional testing of the A380 horizontal stabiliser.

In Spain, Airbus group employs around 12,700 people in all its divisions: from commercial aircraft to military (like the gigantic A400-M), or the helicopters and space divisions, according to data from Airbus. The commercial aircraft branch of Airbus alone has a permanent staff of around 3,400 employees in Spain.

Airbus-Spain presented last year a plan to cut 899 jobs in its civil aircraft division and 722 in its aerospace division. However, the European manufacturer finally agreed, after negotiations with trade unions, to a total reduction of 1,611 employees.

However, thanks to the plan announced on Wednesday, that figure could be substantially reduced, EFE reported, quoting Airbus sources.

Airbus factories in Spain are located in Illescas (Toledo), Getafe (Madrid), Puerto Real (Cádiz) or Tablada, in Seville.

Coronavirus blocks Airbus plans for new jet plant

Airbus has shelved plans to add a French assembly line for its A321neo aircraft just 10 weeks after the expansion was launched, as the coronavirus fallout spreads to its best-selling jetliner.

[Edited by Daniel Eck and Frédéric Simon]

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