Concessions by workers save 1,000 Airbus jobs

  • Thursday, December 20, 2001 9:00pm
  • Business

Associated Press

LONDON — Workers at a British plant of European aircraft maker Airbus voted Thursday to accept a company offer to save 1,000 jobs by cutting hours and overtime.

Workers at the Broughton plant in North Wales voted 1,874 to 784 in favor of the deal, which also includes a number of voluntary departures and a summer shutdown period at the factory.

Airbus spokeswoman Karen Mitchell said about 200 workers already had applied for voluntary leave packages of 5,000 pounds ($7,250) as the company moved to cut costs in the face of a downturn.

It had planned job cuts of 1,700 across both the Broughton factory and its other main British plant in Filton, near Bristol in western England. Mitchell said the acceptance of the deal at Broughton would save 1,000 jobs.

Workers at Filton are still discussing the proposal and are yet to vote. If they accept the proposal, another 200 jobs will be saved, Mitchell said.

The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union praised Airbus for its approach.

"This is a groundbreaking agreement based on a European model that puts job security and protecting the skills base and capacity at the top of the agenda," union general secretary Sir Ken Jackson said.

"We hope that other firms will follow Airbus’s approach in the future."

The job cuts in Britain follow a decision by British aerospace company BAE Systems to shut down production of regional jets. BAE Systems holds a one-fifth stake in Airbus.

Separately, Airbus said Thursday that German carrier Lufthansa has signed a final contract to buy 15 A380 superjumbo jets, boosting the total number of firm orders for the A380 to 85.

Lufthansa’s board approved the purchase on Dec. 6, after initially delaying plans to order the jets in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The A380 — Airbus’ planned competitor for Boeing’s 747 — has a catalog price of $250 million. However, it is common for airlines to receive discounts when they take the risk of ordering a new type of aircraft.

Lufthansa is to receive the planes in 2007. The 555-seat double-decker aircraft is expected to be the world’s largest passenger plane, topping the Boeing 747, which has more than 400 seats.

Airbus has said it hopes to receive 100 solid orders for the A380 by the first quarter of 2002. U.S.-based package delivery company FedEx Corp. is expected to convert its commitment to buy 10 A380s into a firm order early next year. Qatar Airways is expected to order two.

Airbus has lowered its estimate of how many commercial aircraft it expects to deliver in 2002 to 300 from 375 before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, has some 47,000 employees, mostly in its four founding countries: Britain, France, Germany and Spain. About 11,000 employees are in Britain.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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