YESTERDAY, Airbus announced that it will scrap all production of its flagship A380 superjumbo aircraft, a giant cruise liner with two decks and capable of carrying 544 passengers. This was the aircraft with which Airbus boasted it would dominate the skies in the 21st century.
Airbus employs 14,000 workers in the UK, 6,000 at its main wings factory at Broughton in North Wales and 3,000 at its plant in Filton near Bristol.
In addition, 11,000 more are employed in supply chains connected to the production of these planes, making Airbus among the key employers in UK industry.
All these jobs are now under threat, not just in Britain but in France, Germany and Spain where other parts of the plane are built.
The announcement that production would cease was dictated, according to the company, by the decision by the Gulf Emirates, the largest buyer of the A380, to stop ordering the plane, reducing an outstanding order for 53 planes to only 14. In all, Airbus announced the cancellation of orders worth £3 billion.
What will shock workers at Airbus is that only three weeks ago the Chief Executive of Airbus Tom Enders was threatening to close all UK plants not because it was ending production of the A380 but because of Brexit.
On January 24th, Enders released a video in which he threatened to close all UK plants in the event of a no-deal Brexit, saying: ‘In the global economy the UK no longer has the capability to go it alone.’ He added: ‘Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK.’
At the time that Enders made his dire threat that the working class had better cave in over the referendum result and obey the instructions of the bosses or face losing their jobs, he must have known full well that the threat to thousands of jobs came not from Brexit but from the crisis in his own company.
At the heart of the crisis affecting the aviation industry in the UK is the impact of the world economic crisis which has dramatically reduced the earnings and revenues of all the major airline companies forcing a reduction in their fleets and a turn towards cheaper, smaller aircraft.
The result of this crisis has been to destroy what was heralded as an unparallelled manifestation of European collaboration and an example of the EU’s industrial might.
It represents a huge blow to all those industrialists and bankers who have lined up like Enders to threaten economic collapse if the working class ignore their instructions to stay bound to the EU through binding agreements on the customs union and single market as proposed by the Labour Party.
The truth is that the EU is collapsing into economic and political chaos and ruin. Industrial production throughout the eurozone plummeted at the end of 2018 with Italy technically being classed as being in recession and Germany not too far behind.
Overall industrial production in the eurozone was down by 4.2% with Spain experiencing the worst fall of 6.7% followed by 5.5% in Italy and a fall of 3.9% in Germany, the EU’s economic ‘powerhouse’.
In France, the economy has stalled as president Macron is unable to push through his ‘reforms’, which amounts to freeing up the bosses to hire and fire at will while holding down wages, in the face of a revolutionary uprising of workers and youth.
All these dry percentages represent the collapse of industry across Europe and the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost as these companies either collapse completely or, as in the case of Airbus, close down and ‘restructure’ in an effort to keep the profits rolling in.
The working class in Britain and Europe will not accept this as their fate. Those companies like Airbus that threaten closure and moving to other countries must be occupied and placed under workers’ management.
The way forward for the working class and youth of Britain and Europe is to use their enormous power and expropriate the bosses and bankers and advance to a planned socialist economy and go forward to the united socialist states of Europe.