Airbus to stay in UK despite no-deal Brexit, says executive

Airbus is one of the largest industrial groups active in Britain. — Reuters pic
Airbus is one of the largest industrial groups active in Britain. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 18 — Aviation giant Airbus remains “concerned” about the risks of a no-deal Brexit, but will not be shifting operations outside the UK as previously suggested, a senior executive said today. 

“We are concerned about Brexit because we believe that a no-deal would be disadvantageous for all the players,” Bob Lange, Airbus head of market and product strategy, told AFP. 

But “it shouldn’t be said that there is a risk of leaving the country”, he insisted on the sidelines of an event in London. 

Lange said warnings that Airbus would pack its bags and leave Britain were exaggerated, even though the group warned in January of “very painful” decisions in the event of a no-deal. 

Instead, he said the future relationship between the EU and Britain would be “critical” in deciding the fate of the group’s operations in the country. 

Airbus is one of the largest industrial groups active in Britain, generating turnover of €6 billion (RM27.8 billion) through the manufacture of aircraft wings. 

It employs 13,500 staff in Britain, and supports around 110,000 jobs through its suppliers. 

“As a company, we need a level of certainty that we can’t find, so we have our plans preparing for the worst-case scenario, and hope for a better scenario,” Lange said. 

He said that the group, like many others, had recently built up its stocks and now has a month’s reserve supply of spare parts to cope with the disruptions of a no-deal Brexit, which would see the immediate re-introduction of customs duties and red tape between Britain and the continent. 

The preparations have come at a “significant cost” totalling several hundred million euros, Lange said. 

“We are trying to prepare the best we can, but I don’t think anyone can say they’re 100 per cent ready,” he warned, with just over a month left before the scheduled Brexit departure date of October 31. 

Highlighting the seriousness with which the plane manufacturer is treating the issue, its chief executive Guillaume Faury said in an interview with Les Echos on Tuesday that Brexit was “our main concern in Europe”. — AFP

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