Airbus Chief Pledges to Stay in U.K. If Brexit Deal Goes Through
(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury said the latest Brexit deal between Britain and European Union should pave the way for the aerospace giant to carry on making plane wings in the U.K.
The British division, which employs 14,000 people and supports 110,000 supplier jobs, is “very competitive” and will remain a focus for wing production so long as a no-deal split is avoided, Faury said in an interview.
“We have a very strong industrial and technical base in the U.K.,” the CEO, who took over in April, told Bloomberg Television on Friday. “We are very happy with what we have. There is no reason to move production out of the U.K.”
Faury’s comments mark a softening of Airbus’s rhetoric on Brexit compared with predecessor Tom Enders, who was one of the most vocal critics of the schism among European business chiefs. The Toulouse, France-based company has been approached by at least seven governments looking to poach future wing work, people familiar with the matter said last year.
Faury said shifting production away from Airbus plants near Bristol and Chester would also be extremely difficult. “There are huge industrial systems,” he said. “You can’t just move them.”
The CEO said Airbus’s concerns have centered on short-term risks from a no-deal Brexit, seen as likely to disrupt supply chains and comprise a complex manufacturing system that draws on parts from plants spread across Europe.
The current withdrawal agreement, which could see Britain leave the EU on Jan. 31 if Prime Minister Boris Johnson wins a Dec. 12 election, would remove that hurdle, he said, while cautioning that the shaping of a future trade relationship to follow transitional arrangements remains a challenge for negotiators.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Faury said. “But there’s a lot of hope that, based on the withdrawal agreement, there will be a healthy relationship between the U.K. and the EU, and we are trying to play a role in explaining what is necessary.”
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