Airbus struggles to cut costs to offset pandemic losses

Photo: AP

The European plane maker Airbus announced it had launched the biggest restructuring of activities in its history to spur cost saving that was forced by the pandemic slump in demand, Reuters reported. The company started joining some operations across EU and in other cases even selling minor production activities, related to making of small details in Germany and France. "We are in the process of reviewing different ownership structures to identify the best possible solution," a spokesman said, referring to the new Germany-based detail-parts spin-off.

The European firm confirmed it would combine aerostructure assembly in France under one entity, bringing major fuselage parts plants in St Nazaire and Nantes together with the worldwide operations of its Stelia subsidiary. In Germany, its Premium Aerotec unit will be split, with part of it combined with manufacturing plants in Stade and some of the large Hamburg factory, and the rest folded into a new business specialising in small mass-produced "detail" parts. Those parts can range from small generic items like metal brackets costing a few dollars to complex machined items costing tens of thousands, such as those made in the highly automated Varel plant in Germany. Also included in the new spin-off are part of the Augsburg plant in Germany and the Brasov facility in Romania.

Once considered the less valuable end of the aerospace spectrum, aerostructures are considered vital to the aerodynamically complex, decarbonised designs of the future.

The rethink draws a line under efforts to sell the whole of Stelia and PremiumAerotec - both carved out in 2009 as part of a restructuring plan called Power8. Initial sale hopes were dashed by the financial crisis and few buyers have emerged since.

Stelia and Premium Aerotec have combined sales of 3.6 billion euros and 15,000 staff. Bringing them back under direct Airbus control could result in significant costs and investment. The new industrial blueprint, which coincides with a broader restructuring involving up to 15,000 core Airbus jobs triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, is subject to talks with unions.

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