AIRBUS chief says the company will look at all options to minimise compulsory redundancies as brunt of UK losses to come from Flintshire plant.

Earlier this week the company announced plans to reduce its UK workforce by 1,700 as part of efforts to safeguard its future.

The company has since confirmed that more than 1,400 jobs are at risk at Airbus' Broughton plant.

Paul McKinlay, Airbus Senior Vice President UK, said that there had been a 40 per cent reduction in production output and although the numbers were ‘significant’, the site would still have a ‘very significant population of highly skilled people’.

There would be thousands of highly skilled, experienced engineers and the plans in place would allow the company to be ‘ready’ for the revamp in production when the time comes.

Airbus confirmed on Thursday morning they had opened a national dialogue with partners across the UK and came up with an adaption plan, including 1,435 positions in Broughton and 295 in Filton.

Mr McKinlay said both the UK Government and Welsh Government have offered ‘significant support’ to the company and the sector since the start of the crisis and ‘a lot has been done in a very challenging situation’.

He added that the company is ‘determined wherever we can’ to mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies through voluntary redundancy, early retirement or even shortening a working week.

However, he said that options ‘cannot be ruled out’ but they continue talks with both governments in terms of funding and upskilling.

The senior vice president said: “One way through the crisis is we upskill and train employees so we are better prepared for what we hope will be the recovery in the sector.

“We continue to have dialogues so let’s see what the days and weeks ahead will bring. We are in the very first day of consultation and we need to explore every avenue.”

Mr McKinlay said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to speculate but said it was his ‘personal commitment’ to do everything in his power to avoid compulsory redundancies.

He added that one particular avenue would be shortening the working week to perhaps four days, so when the recovery comes they then have the ‘flexibility to ramp up production’.

When asked about an extension to the furlough scheme, he said that they are not asking for an extension but if a shorter working week were agreed, a shortfall in wages by the Government would help.

It is predicted the recovery phase would not come until towards the end of 2021/start of 2022.

Mr McKinlay said dialogues with customers have been ‘ongoing since day one’ and will continue as it is ‘essential’ not only the company is ready for recovery but also the supply chain and partners are ready.

He added: “We will help them through the crisis to ensure they have the right access to support, we will continue to do that.

“We do understand the inevitable situation and the difficult decisions we’ve reached this week and ultimately the devastating impact applies equally to those supplies as well.”

However, despite the large-scale job losses, current students in the apprenticeships and education programmes will be protected.

Mr McKinlay said the programmes are ‘really important’ to Airbus and all leadership teams in the UK, however, studies have had to be postponed due to the closure of colleges.

He pledged to do ‘everything they can’ to ensure those schemes are protected in the future but current students will ‘not be at risk as a result of the announcement’.

However, this brings about its own challenges in terms of an extension of completion and being unable to recruit in September.

The Senior Vice President added: “It’s unfortunate but we are faced with no other option. I’m relieved with all the work we have done to protect the current individuals on the scheme.”

Mr McKinlay said the decisions taken are the outcome of discussions with customers and before any announcement, bosses wanted to discuss the situation ‘customer by customer and build that into production planning going forward’.

Mark Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside said it was 'disappointing' that the proposed redundancies in Broughton were of a 'greater proportion'.

He added: "I will be working with the trade union and the company over the next few days to establish what this means for staff.

"This highlights exactly why this industry needs urgent Government support. Passenger numbers are not going to bounce back overnight, which means airlines are cancelling or delaying orders for planes. There is the risk of airlines going bust.

"The US and EU Governments have provided support to preserve jobs in aerospace manufacturing, and as I called for last week in the House of Commons, the UK Government must step up to plate and save these skilled jobs in this vital industry. We cannot afford for the UK to be left behind.

"The ball is in Boris Johnson's court- he must act now or this will be the first of many that will devastate the industry and I invite all North Wales and North West MPs to join me in demanding the Prime Minister and Chancellor do the right thing."