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Airbus to announce major job cuts

Troubled planemaker Airbus is preparing to announce up to 10,000 job losses at key operating sites across Europe.

Workers in France and Germany are set to bear the brunt of the cuts, although 1,500 job losses are expected at Airbus plants in Britain and 500 in Spain. Airbus has been struggling in the wake of production delays to its flagship A380 superjumbo project. Franco-German parent firm EADS has said it has approved the eagerly-awaited restructuring plan. But disagreement between Germany and France, both home to key Airbus factories, has made it hard to reach a deal.
Airbus bosses are expected to unveil the company's cost saving restructuring plan later. About 4,300 jobs could be cut in France and 3,700 jobs in Germany. Britain, which specializes in producing wings for Airbus aircraft, has sites in Filton, Bristol, and in Broughton, North Wales. Reports say none of the 1,500 job losses in the UK will be manufacturing jobs. The company employs more than 11,000 staff in the UK. About 500 job cuts could also be announced in Spain. It is understood Airbus could force contractors working with the company to share the burden of job cutbacks, a move which may see the planemaker axing closer to 5,000 of its own workforce. German and French politicians have been fighting hard to prevent job losses in their Airbus factories. The worry was that British jobs in Bristol and North Wales would go instead. There have been fears the Filton plant might be closed completely. But a government source has told the BBC the cuts have been limited to the 1500 jobs in Britain, many of them staff on temporary contracts, compared to the nearly 4300 jobs in France and 3700 in Germany.

It is understood the Filton plant has won extra work on part of the wing for the new Airbus A350 which uses high-tech composite materials. The new contracts will help Airbus in the UK maintain its position as a specialist in the design and manufacture of aircraft wings. This will also strengthen the Broughton factory which assembles the wings for all Airbus planes, including the A380. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling has been closely involved in intensive lobbying with Airbus and is likely to claim this new investment in Britain's aerospace industry as a success. Unions across Europe have threatened strike action over the planned job cuts, although Airbus is expected to try and avoid the need for compulsory redundancies. „We totally oppose the closure of any site and we won't accept any firings,” said European Metalworkers Federation head Peter Scherrer. In a statement, EADS said the restructuring plan would enable it to „better face the financial burden related to the A380 delays as well as its future investment needs”. Production problems with the giant A380 have pushed back deliveries of the plane by two years and cost the company about €5 billion (£3.4 billion; $6.6 billion). (BBC NEWS)