No-Deal Brexit Could Force Airbus to Leave the UK, CEO Says
Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, warned that a no-deal Brexit could force the company to move its wing-building factories out of the UK.
With just 64 days left until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit are becoming increasingly high. Theresa May’s overwhelming defeat in the UK parliament has prompted many companies to speak out about the repercussions of exiting the EU without a withdrawal treaty.
Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, the world’s second largest aerospace company, issued a direct appeal to Britain’s divided parliament to avoid such an outcome. In a video released on Airbus’ official website, Enders warned that the company “will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK” in the event of no deal.
Airbus currently employs around 14,000 people in Britain, a Reuters report showed, including 6,000 at its main wings factory at Broughton, Wales, and 3,000 in Filton, western England, where wings are designed and supported.
This was not the first time Airbus has issued warnings about Brexit – Enders campaigned against the UK leaving the European Union ahead of the 2016 referendum. At the beginning of January, Enders also urged politicians to increase their efforts to avoid a “disorderly” exit.
Airbus’ warnings have been heavily criticized in the media, with many questioning the company’s intent to move its operations outside of Britain. Critics argued that, apart from the efficiency of Airbus’ factory, the case for it staying in the UK was buoyed by the weakened pound, Reuters reported.
However, Enders, who has been at the head of Airbus since 2012, seems to have adopted a more imperative tone, as he issued a firm warning in his address. “Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness which asserts that, because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong,” he said.
Enders acknowledged that moving the company’s large factories to other parts of the world immediately was not possible, but that the company was willing to take on the risk.
“However, aerospace is a long-term business and we could be forced to re-direct future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit. And make no mistake there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft,” he warned.
British Brexit minister Stephen Barclay was fast to comment on the issue, saying he took the warning from Enders “very seriously.” Barclay explained that the business community is clear in their intent to avoid the uncertainty of no deal, which is why most chief executives are backing Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal.