The Airbus Industrie consortium this week agreed to form a single integrated company with control of all its manufacturing facilities, raising questions over possible rationalisation across the new company.
At least 25,000 UK engineering jobs in over 300 companies could be affected by the move, as BAe, which holds a 20% stake in Airbus, builds all Airbus wings at plants in Chester and Filton.
Airbus partners British Aerospace, Aerospatiale, Germany’s Dasa and Spain’s Casa said they had agreed to set up the new structure ‘on the basis of integration of all activities needed to define, develop and produce the current and future Airbus product line under the responsibility of one management’.
A BAe Airbus spokesman said the move would place all the partners’ Airbus facilities under one management.
This represents a reverse for Aerospatiale, which has resisted any change which could affect the control of its manufacturing plants.
A merchant bank close to one Airbus partner said no decisions on plant ownership had been taken.
The Airbus partners want to incorporate the new single corporate entity at the beginning of 1999. The move meets BAe’s long-standing objective of replacing Airbus’s diffuse ‘economic interest group’ organisation with a tighter management structure.
This ought to help Airbus compete with America’s Boeing, now an even stronger rival since its merger with McDonnell Douglas.
Airbus itself could not clarify what the proposed integration of its activities will involve. BAe Airbus said that ‘management structure details still have to be worked out’.