Airbus SE may need to stock up on the parts it needs to build wings at its U.K. plants to avoid the risk of delays to deliveries once Britain formally leaves the European Union.
The European plane maker has warned that it can only ensure its U.K. factories remain untouched if its operations can retain the same level of efficiency. Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders has been one of the most outspoken critics of Brexit, even after sending a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark last month to reaffirm Airbus’s long-term commitment to Britain, where it produces wings for all its commercial jets.
“If we think there’s going to be a kind of a gumming up of the docks and the airports in March of next year and during a transition period then we’re going to have to start ordering additional components now,” Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus’s commercial aircraft arm, said in an internal video posted to employees. “And that’s at a time when all of our suppliers are already pretty busy.”
The video of Williams’s comments were made after a meeting with government where ministers indicated they understood the issues facing the aerospace industry -- including concerns about border controls for both parts and people -- but little in the way of specifics. Airbus is in the midst of ramping up production to meet record backlogs in orders for its single-aisle and wide-body jets, an expansion that already has it pushing its suppliers to the brink.
“We’re coming to quite a momentous event and the important message we try to put across to ministers is we’re only a year away now, the clock’s running pretty fast,” Williams said. “And from my point of view it comes down to a lot of practical discussions and decisions.”
By Benjamin Katz