Posted: Wed 11th Apr 2018

Brexit confusion threatens the UK aviation industry says Airbus CEO

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Apr 11th, 2018

Another week and yet another warning that Brexit poses a real threat to the UK aviation industry and Airbus particularly.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders has weighed in and fired a warning to Britain over the current Brexit uncertainty within his industry.

In an opinion piece in today’s Financial Times Mr Enders says that with less than one year until Britain leaves the EU, the future shape of the UK’s relations with the bloc and its member countries remains extremely unclear.

Airbus wants Britain to provide more clarity over the country’s future relationship with the European Union, or Enders warns “it risks losing vital investment.”

“There remains so much at stake, not least real investment decisions that could have serious implications for Airbus and other industrial companies well after the date the UK leaves the EU.” He said.

Enders said a transition arrangement for the UK’s departure will be a positive step, once it is signed –“but this is a temporary solution — it does not solve all the issues that need to be addressed. We must have more clarity on the UK’s long-term relationships, not just for the next 20 months.” The Airbus boss said.

“Aerospace manufacturers, whose products must meet rigorous safety and certification standards, cannot let political whims drive the crucial issue facing our industry: no certification, no fly.” Said the CEO.

“The UK must avoid double certification and double standards. This would best be achieved through continued participation in the EU aviation safety certification agency, EASA.

The European Council apparently foresees an “air transport agreement combined with aviation and security agreements” that are somewhat aligned with current conditions.

This, combined with UK prime minister Theresa May’s comments, gives me hope the UK will remain a member of EASA and other regulatory agencies, but business cannot plan, or indeed run, on hope.” Said Mr Enders.

Enders said Airbus’s UK sites design and build the wings for all our commercial aircraft “our customers are not buying British wings; they are buying global aircraft. During production, parts of these wings move between the UK and the EU multiple times before final assembly. This is typical for all of our UK-assembled products and is why the lack of clarity around the customs union and trade is hugely worrying.” He said.

The Airbus CEO said the plane maker spends £5bn a year with UK suppliers “across our operations and supply chain, we think Brexit will affect 672 sites. Our people also make more than 80,000 business trips between the other 27 EU nations and Britain every year. Hard borders and regulatory divergence risk blocking trade, creating supply chain logjams and causing our business to grind to a halt.” he said.

These delays added Mr Enders “will hit our competitiveness and are something that we cannot afford to tolerate. We need the UK to provide clarity on customs and ensure alignment with the EU rules that apply to our sector.”

“There remains so much at stake, not least real investment decisions that could have serious implications for Airbus and other industrial companies well after the date the UK leaves the EU.

Britain must recognise that future investments are not a given. It is the competitive environment that determines international interest in the UK. Any downgrading of the free movement of goods and people will have an impact on Britain’s competitiveness.” Enders warned.

It is no good making the right noises said the Airbus boss, “we need a plan that comes from the UK but is also accepted by the EU27. 

“Our preference is for the UK to remain a home nation for Airbus, and we will continue to talk to the UK and other European governments and try to get the clarity we need.

It is not too late to reassure large businesses like Airbus about what will happen in a year’s time as well as after a transition period. But the time to do that is fast running out.”

The transition deal, secured by the UK Government in March, puts the risk of disruption for companies back until the end of 2020.

Enders adds “we need business and regulatory conditions that are right for us and our supply chain.

Competitiveness is key. Our factories are highly efficient. We must not lose this competitiveness, either through increased financial or regulatory burden, or through a lack of clarity that will make future investment impossible.”

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