Airbus is likely to create up to 600 jobs in the UK this year at its plants in Filton and Broughton, but warned UK suppliers that to ensure continued work they need to maintain competitive pricing against global competitors.
The company said Britain’s GKN recently lost out on a contract to a Korean rival, KAI, because it was not competitive enough. Tom Enders, Airbus’s chief executive, said the bid for work on wings for the A320 jet was won by Korea Aerospace Industries because it made a cheaper pitch.
Speaking in Hamburg at the annual press conference for Airbus’s parent group, EADS, Enders said the move underlined the need for Airbus to stay competitive against rivals including Boeing and did not signal a withdrawal from the UK. “This company needs to reduce costs,” he said. “We need to internationalise further. It is not a signal that we are withdrawing from the UK. That is nonsense.”
“I know this comes up because we have recently made headlines with outsourcing of so-called UK work to Korea. But that was just simply because of competitiveness. We were running a very competitive tender here.”
Airbus has a workforce of 10,000 in the UK, most made up of workers at its wing manufacturing plant in Broughton, north Wales, and at its design and testing facility in Filton near Bristol. Enders said Airbus would create around about 500-600 jobs in the UK this year and company sources said the positions would probably be based at Filton and Broughton.
Some 15% of Airbus production is in the UK but the successful KAI bid earlier this month highlights the need for British companies to maintain competitiveness. Britain is the world’s second largest exporter of aerospace products. The UK industry, including Rolls-Royce jet engines, employs 96,500 people and generated sales of £23.1bn in 2010.