Airbus has warned its 135,000 employees that it may not survive the coronavirus lockdown unless it takes immediate action that may involve deeper job cuts.
Its chief executive, Guillaume Faury, told staff in a letter on Friday that the plane maker was “bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed”, and was considering all options as it waited to see how badly demand would be affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The aerospace manufacturer has started to take advantage of government schemes including a furlough programme in France to help pay nearly 3,000 local workers during the lockdown. It has also convinced banks to increase its line of credit, giving the airline “time to adapt and resize”.
Airbus, which is one of the largest plane suppliers to commercial airlines, is considering other financial assistance including government-backed loans, according to Reuters. However, Faury warned that the group “may now need to plan for more far-reaching measures” to stay afloat.
“The survival of Airbus is in question if we don’t act now,” Faury told employees.
The warning comes weeks after the group announced it would slash the number of planes it produces by a third, due to travel restrictions that have wreaked havoc on global airlines and reduced demand for new aircraft.
“In just a couple of weeks we have lost roughly one-third of our business. And, frankly, that’s not even the worst case scenario we could face,” Faury said.
The company usually produces more than 60 of its most popular Airbus A320 model each month but is cutting that to 40. It will also reduce production of its A330 planes to two and A350s to six.
The firm has about 13,500 staff in the UK, most of whom help manufacture wings at sites in Broughton, north Wales, and Filton, Bristol.
Airbus could end up revealing fresh job cuts as early as Wednesday, when it is due to release its first-quarter earnings.
A spokesman for Airbus said the company would not comment on internal communications.