More turbulence for Airbus

Xavier Petrachi, a French trade-union delegate at Airbus' Colomiers plant, talks to reporters about the company delaying its cost-cutting announcement.

BOB MOON: More turmoil for the big European plane-maker Airbus.It's been forced to postpone a major cost-cutting announcement planned for tomorrow. Seems France, Germany, Britain, and Spain can't agree on where the axe should fall. Here's Stephen Beard from the Marketplace European Desk.


STEPHEN BEARD: Europe has been in the brace position waiting for tomorrow's news. Some press reports suggested 12,000 jobs will go — 20 percent of Airbus's workforce. The cuts are required largely because of problems with the new A380, the superjumbo.

But now, Airbus has postponed tomorrow's momentous announcement. Clearly because of bickering behind the scenes, says Richard Gritta of the Pamplin School of Business in Oregon.

RICHARD GRITTA: They've been in disarray ever since the A380 kind of turned south in terms of demand. Now, they're fighting over where the job losses are gonna come.

The main fight is between the German and French shareholders. The Germans feel their plants are bearing the brunt of the restructuring. And, says Ian Carson of the Economist magazine, they believe the French are grabbing the lion's share of work on another new Airbus plane — the A350.

IAN CARSON: The Germans are putting money into it. And they want some return. And Airbus is still up against the same old brick wall of national rivalry.

There is only beneficiary, says Richard Gritta. Further delays in the A350 can only provide a further boost to its main competitor, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

GRITTA: Boeing has totally turned the situation around. They are selling 787s, which is a stunning aircraft. And the stress is now on the French and the Germans.

The head of Airbus tonight called on his parent company with its warring shareholders to approve the restructuring plan. "We can't delay any longer," he said, "we urgently need consensus."

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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