Airbus suspends production in France and Spain

‘Pause’ comes as France is placed under severe lockdown due to coronavirus

The most serious across-the-board disruption in Airbus production since  1989 pushed its shares down 7%. Photograph: Pascal PavanI/AFP

The most serious across-the-board disruption in Airbus production since 1989 pushed its shares down 7%. Photograph: Pascal PavanI/AFP

 

Airbus announced plans to halt operations at its plants in France and Spain for four days as the coronavirus crisis spread from battered airlines to the manufacturing sector.

The most serious across-the-board disruption in Airbus production since a strike at then British partner BAE Systems in 1989 pushed its shares down 7 per cent as a rebound in other European shares quickly faltered.

“This will allow sufficient time to implement stringent health and safety conditions in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing, while improving the efficiency of operations under the new working conditions,” Airbus said in a statement.

The “pause” in output came after Reuters reported on Monday that Airbus had drawn up contingency plans to slow or stop production if France was placed under a drastic lockdown due to coronavirus.

French president Emmanuel Macron late on Monday ordered stringent restrictions on people’s movements to slow the spread of coronavirus.

US rival Boeing, which halted production of grounded 737 Max jets in January, is also weighing contingency plans to halt or slow twin-aisle production, a person familiar with the matter said.

A Boeing spokesman said production continued at this time and the company was closely tracking guidance from government and health officials.

Deliveries have already been disrupted as crisis-hit airlines hold back from taking possession of aircraft in order to conserve cash, industry sources say. – Reuters