Airbus has announced that it cut 15,000 jobs as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the European plane maker says this is subject to talks with unions.

The Unite union said the Airbus announcement was “another act of industrial vandalism” against the UK aerospace sector. Some 134,000 people work for Airbus worldwide.

More details of the job losses and how they will break down between the two giant factories will be known after talks with unions. However, Unite said it expected 1,116 manufacturing jobs and 611 office-based jobs to go, shrinking Airbus’s UK workforce by 15%.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been little short of catastrophic for the airline industry. At in April, global air traffic was down by more than 90%.

Airlines are struggling to survive and simply can’t afford to take on new planes and that means Airbus has had to curb production. Airbus has delayed these cuts and has made full use of support from governments. But ultimately it had little choice. And the pain being felt in places such as Broughton, Toulouse and Hamburg will echo through the entire supply chain. The firm expects to make the cuts by European summer 2021, but hopes the majority of redundancies will be voluntary or through early retirement of staff.

The company warned in April that it was “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed” as it struggled with the impact of the coronavirus crisis. It said that production had dropped by 40% in recent months, and that it did not expect air traffic to get back to pre-pandemic levels until 2023 at the earliest. “Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced,” said chief executive Guillaume Faury. “The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic. Now, we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers.”

And Reuters reported that Air France/KLM was targeting more than 6,500 job cuts over the next two years.

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