The news gives cold sweats in Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), where the headquarters of Airbus is installed. A vast reorganization plan is said to be in preparation for the European aircraft manufacturer, following the turbulence experienced due to the health crisis. The British press has even mentioned a job safeguard plan for 10% of the workforce out of the group's 135,000 employees. On April 25, Guillaume Faury, the president of Airbus had written to all employees to underline "the most serious crisis ever encountered by the aeronautical industry", even wondering about the survival of the company.
Because since March 17 and the virtual stop of air traffic, the aeronautical group loses a lot of money. It must drastically limit aircraft deliveries and reduce its production rates by 33% on assembly lines. After the first wave of partial unemployment in March and April for 3000 employees, the manufacturer generalized this device last week to 48,000 employees in France. The pessimistic forecasts on the resumption of air traffic, which would not return to normal levels in three or four years, seem to have accelerated this restructuring of the aeronautical giant.
"Nothing will be activated before the summer," says one at the Toulouse headquarters of Airbus. As for the trade unions, they refuse to comment on these rumors on the social level. "There have been no announcements regarding layoffs and this is not the only solution to this huge crisis, other alternatives must be found," said Xavier Petrachi, CGT delegate at Airbus. Partial unemployment has been extended until September 30 and there may be a third wave until December, so this is a signal about the desire to maintain employment. I think, but without being sure, that there will be nothing before September on structural measures. We have the industrial means to diversify, for example by working on a greener aircraft. We still have eight years of full order backlog and I believe aeronautics still has a future. "
Between 20,000 and 40,000 jobs would be threatened
These rumors about Airbus' poor health do not reassure regional economic players, worried about the repercussions on the 102,000 jobs in the aeronautics sector, which represent 40% of employment in Occitania. Alain Di Crescenzo, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Occitania, estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 jobs would be threatened in the region, if Airbus does not raise the bar.
He calls on the State and the European Union to save this sector of excellence. "I don't want it, but I don't see how we could avoid a restructuring at Airbus," he warns. Now, the real question we have to ask ourselves: do we want a European aeronautics sector or not? If we don't want it, we stop. Otherwise it must be massively supported with an abandonment of charges, a massive injection of capital so that foreign funds do not take hold of companies, research and development programs to develop the green plane and a relocation of know-how in Europe. "