Airbus Condemns U.K.’s ‘Unraveling’ Brexit Plan, Echoing Rolls

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Airbus SE Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders bashed U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s “unraveling” Brexit plan, following on similar criticism leveled Tuesday by his counterpart at engine-maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc.

Airbus is activating contingency plans and will stockpile parts in preparation for border delays after the U.K. exits the European Union next year, Enders said Wednesday at the Farnborough air show southwest of London. The planemaker, based in Toulouse, France, operates a so-called just-in-time production system and makes wings for its planes at a plant in Broughton, Wales. Enders said the company needs to create an inventory buffer to insure against any shortages.

May has been forced to retreat on key elements of her blueprint for managing trade with Europe after the split, including plans for a relatively seamless movement of parts across the English Channel. Warren East, CEO of U.K.-based Rolls, on Tuesday made his strongest comments yet about the plan’s dilution, saying the enginemaker would decide by year-end whether it too needed to build up a supply of parts.

Airbus has been one of the most outspoken business voices warning about the threat and cost of new border controls after Brexit. While the release of May’s white paper earlier this month had given companies some optimism, that feeling is now gone.

“I thought the white paper was going in the right direction, the changes were going in the right direction,” Enders told reporters. “Now we see that they’re unraveling again, so all the more reason for us to take now serious decisions.”

Airbus employees travel between 80,000 and 90,000 times between the European Union and the U.K. each year, the CEO said, adding that the issue of movement is “something that’s worrying us.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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