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Leaders set for Airbus jobs talks

The heads of Germany and France are preparing to meet to address how an overhaul of Airbus will affect jobs in their respective countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Jacques Chirac will join talks with the planemaker's parent company, EADS, near Berlin. Thousands of jobs are expected to go in a restructure of Airbus. Airbus employs 6,500 people in Filton, Bristol, and 5,000 at Broughton, North Wales, who could be at risk in the UK. EADS said it would make an announcement on the restructuring by early March. But reports have suggested that Airbus could cut up to 12,000 jobs from its 57,000-strong workforce. The meeting of the leaders is taking place in Germany, with each keen to minimize the losses in their nation. According to Reuters news agency, Airbus chief Louis Gallois has drawn up a compromise to break the deadlock over job cuts. Under the scheme, Germany would get a greater share of work on the next model A320 jet in return for reducing its demands for work on the upcoming A350 plane, the agency said.

Germany has expressed concerned that its 21,000 Airbus workers will be worst hit. Airbus had been due to announce a major overhaul of the business on Tuesday, but this was postponed amid disagreement between its various European partners. France, Germany, the UK and Spain, all home to Airbus factories, have been unable to agree on future contracts. Government ministers and union officials from all four countries have been lobbying Airbus bosses in recent days, fearing that plants in their countries will bear the brunt of the cuts. Costly delays to the A380 superjumbo have hit the company's finances. Parent firm EADS says Airbus needs to reduce its costs by €5 billion (£3.4 billion) by 2010 to boost productivity and make up for the losses from the delays to the flagship project. Further savings after 2010 - in the region of €2 billion a year - are also likely. Airbus' main factory is in Toulouse, where the firm is based. Among its German plants, the company employs more than 10,000 staff in Hamburg, where final assembly of three models takes place. (BBC NEWS)