Airbus warns that ‘no deal’ Brexit could jeopardise 14,000 UK jobs

Airbus is to reconsider its position in the UK should a ‘no deal’ Brexit plays out next March, with the company saying it would be “catastrophic”.

Airbus jobs could be put in jeopardy if Britain leaves the single market.
More than 100,000 Airbus jobs could be put in jeopardy if Britain leaves the single market.

The aerospace manufacturer directly employs 14,000 people over 25 sites in the UK, and has published its Brexit risk assessment document, considering the potential outcomes of the EU referendum on Airbus.

In an accompanying statement, the company made clear that it would “reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country” should the UK leave the single market and customs union immediately without any agreed transition.

“The risk assessment from Airbus, and the very real threat that Brexit poses to related jobs and supply chains should come as no surprise,” said Nick Peters, Editorial Director of The Manufacturer.

Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus commercial aircraft, said: “We have sought to highlight our concerns over the past 12 months, without success. Far from project fear, this is a dawning reality for Airbus.”

He added: “Put simply, a no deal scenario directly threatens our future in the UK.” 

The assessment noted that Brexit poses “major risks” to the aerospace sector, with the company “increasingly concerned” over the lack of progression in the EU/UK relationship since the EU referendum result was announced two years ago.

Peters continued: “Those who understand manufacturing have warned of this impending catastrophe for the last two years. So why issue it so late in the day, on the eve of the second anniversary of the Brexit vote?”

“The fact is that business leaders have been way too cautious about Brexit, not wanting to risk accusations of interfering in the political process. Perhaps they were betting that politicians would understand the threat and steer the process away from the cliff edge. If so, it was a terribly misguided decision.”

The company who indirectly employs 100,000 people in the UK and generated more than £5bn in UK revenue in 2015, stated in its June 2017 economics report, that the UK is a “core part of Airbus’ worldwide operations.”

Until an outcome is confirmed, the company who manufacture vital airplane, helicopter, satellite, and defence equipment are to “refrain from extending its UK suppliers and partners base.”

Williams added: “In any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences for the UK aerospace industry and Airbus in particular.”

“Therefore, immediate mitigation measures would need to be accelerated. While Airbus understands that the political process must go on, as a responsible business we require immediate details on the pragmatic steps that should be taken to operate competitively. Without these, we believe the impacts on our UK operations could be significant.”

The Manufacturer has extensively analysed the impact of Brexit on the manufacturing industry, and the increasing concerns Airbus has published only highlight the issues British manufacturers are facing post-Brexit.

Peters concluded: “The question is will enough reasonable politicians in and out of government listen to this very grave warning, and is there time to change course? And now that Airbus has come out in the open, which manufacturer will be next?”