Production at facilities of Aviation and defence firms such as Airbus, Dassault Aviation, MBDA and Leonardo has been hit due to COVID-19 pandemic now sweeping across Europe.
Dassault Aviations plants that manufacture the Rafale fighter jet and Falcon business aircraft have been working at below par since last week. The company’s ability to deliver its Rafale jets to India, Qatar and Egypt is now in doubt and dependent upon how quickly the COVID-19 crisis is contained and employees are able to get back to work, local media reported.
Europe’s biggest Aerospace industry employer, Airbus which has some 46,000 workers in France, announced a gradual re-opening of its production in France and Spain after a weekend shutdown. However, a member of the Airbus’ employees union was quoted as saying to French newspaper, LATribune, "It is a very partial recovery of 5 to 10% of employees, only with volunteers," adding, “we would have preferred total containment.”
“By absolutely wanting to continue production activity, the Airbus management requires employees to go to the site and work in conditions which is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee that they eliminate any risk of contamination," the union member was quoted as saying.
Missile Manufacturer MBDA has already announced the stoppage of operations in its France-based facilities to mitigate the Coronavirus crisis. Labor unions of engine manufacturer Safran have called for a complete halt to activities at all Safran sites worldwide.
At Dassault Aviation, the measures announced by CEO Eric Trappier like the reorganization of work, the distribution of hydroalcoholic gels and masks, which could make it possible to resume "degraded activity in complete safety" for employees, are not yet in place, a member of its labour union, the CFDT told the French newspaper.
Meanwhile, Airbus said in a statement, “We have withdrawn our 2020 guidance due to the volatility of the situation,” quoting Airbus Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury. Airbus’ management has received approval from the Board of Directors to suspend the voluntary top up in pension funding.
“By maintaining production, managing its resilient backlog, supporting its customers and securing financial flexibility for its operations, Airbus intends to secure business continuity for itself even in a protracted crisis,” the statement said.
Leonardo’s marine systems division Fincantieri has suspended operations for two weeks at its Italian facilities. Its helicopter facility and an F-35 assembly line have come back on track after a weekend shutdown, the company said.
BAE Systems in Barrow which builds submarines was shut after two cases of coronavirus last and has since re-opened after deep clean."We recognize this is a difficult time for our employees and members of the public and we are taking all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of our workforce," a company spokesperson said to local media.