Aircraft manufacturers’ union puts pressure on Airbus economy

IG Metall is increasing pressure on the company in the dispute over the restructuring of the aerospace group Airbus. Before the start of collective bargaining, the union called for a social collective agreement to cushion the consequences it feared. If management does not move significantly, IG Metall wants to organize short-term warning strikes.

In the spring, Airbus announced that it would combine the Premium Aerotec subsidiary with parts of the Airbus factories and transfer them to a new company that produces structural components for the aircraft. The production of small parts, which employs around 4,000 people, is to be contracted out to a separate company and sold. IG Metall has not rejected all plans in principle, but wants guarantees for work on future aircraft models. “We have not received any acceptable proposals,” said Daniel Friedrich, IG Metall Coast District Manager.

In the social wage agreement, the union is demanding severance pay of 25,000 euros plus three monthly salaries for those whose jobs are lost, two-year continuing education programs and a contingency fund. The agreement will run for twelve years.

Airbus once again declared that the construction of fuselage structures was an absolute core business and therefore finally abandoned the old plans to sell Premium Aerotec and French company Stelia Aerospace. However, the German subsidiary in particular struggles with high costs and produces small parts that would be cheaper elsewhere. Management maintains that the conversion is necessary because the fuselage will play an even more important role in future generations of aircraft, and because it would make costs more transparent.

Airbus General Works Council Chairman Holger Junge believes the key point is to ensure sufficient work packages for the next generation of aircraft. He expects a decision to be made within two to three years and a new model in 2030. Airbus itself is not targeting 2035.

The conflict hits the company at an inopportune time. Because Airbus is once again stepping up production of short and medium-haul aircraft. As of the fourth quarter, 44 aircraft per month are to be delivered, beginning of 2023 until 63. The A320neo series is currently the only profitable series among the civil planes of Airbus, warning strikes here would have massive economic consequences. It is therefore clear to CFO Dominik Asam: “We need an amicable solution.

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