The European plane manufacturer is to assess the future of one of its production plants in North Wales due to shifts in aviation demand, but there are no immediate plans to reduce its footprint at the 750-acre site following news of redundancies last week.
Airbus operates three plants at its Broughton facility, its biggest UK site, which employs 6,000 employees and focusses on wing assembly for the company’s line of commercial aircraft.
At the East Factory, wings are manufactured for Airbus A320 and A330 planes, while the North Factory manufactures wings for A350s.
The West Factory focusses exclusively on wing production for the double-decker A380 aircraft, of which Airbus intends to cease production by next summer.
The Broughton factory completed its last pair of A380 wings earlier this year and shipped it to one of Airbus’ final assembly plants in France.
The West Factory is obliged to remain operational until the last A380 aircraft has been fully built in case any wing repair work is needed before delivery of the aircraft to the client airline. However, the factory’s future beyond summer 2021 is uncertain.
A spokesperson for Airbus told Place North West: “We are constantly reviewing our [space needs]. At the moment, there are no plans to alter our physical footprint at Broughton or any other of our sites.”
Last week, the Toulouse-headquartered firm announced widespread redundancies across Broughton, which is to lose 1,435 of its 6,000 staff, and Filton in Bristol, its research and development facility that employs 3,200 staff and will shed 295.
It is understood that any property review at Broughton would be unrelated to the planned redundancies because the same type and scale of facilities are required to manufacture aircraft wings, even if production is scaled down.
The global aviation industry has taken a battering during the coronavirus pandemic as countries moved to impose travel bans, denting passenger demand.
Airbus’ decision to halt production of the A380 after 12 years, however, was taken long before the virus outbreak, and is related to changing trends in aviation, leading to weak sales.
The superjumbo jet has faced competition from smaller, more efficient aircraft amid rising fuel prices, as well as a growing preference for ‘point-to-point’ rather than long-haul travel, which has squeezed Airbus’ profit margins.
The amount of industrial floor space at the Broughton site totals almost 5m sq ft and the land is leased from aerospace and defense multinational BAE Systems.
Some of Airbus’ commercial suppliers are also based at the site off the A5104 near Hawarden Business Park.