EADS announces 5,800 jobs cuts in defence, space division

BERLIN (AFP) - European aerospace giant EADS, the maker of Airbus aircraft, announced plans on Monday to cut 5,800 jobs in its defence and space division over three years.

The layoffs, part of a major restructuring in the face of falling orders, will affect the group’s work force in Germany, France, Spain and Britain, the company said in a statement.

The news came after a meeting of its European works council with EADS chief executive Tom Enders, whose bold plan to merge the conglomerate with Britain’s defence group BAE Systems was torpedoed last year with a surprise veto by Germany.

“We need to improve our competitiveness in defence and space – and we need to do it now,” Enders said, according to the statement.

“With our traditional markets down, we urgently need to improve access to international customers, to growth markets. For that to work, we need to cut costs, eliminate product and resource overlaps, create synergies in our operations and product portfolio and better focus our Research and Development efforts.” He added: “That’s what the restructuring and integration plan for our defence and space business is all about.”

Anticipating fierce resistance from labour representatives, the company said it would do what it could to cushion the impact of the job cuts, due to be completed by the end of 2016.

Furloughed employees will be offered redeployment with 1,500 jobs at the company’s Airbus and Eurocopter divisions.

About 1,300 short-term contracts will not be renewed, and with voluntary measures, the company estimated final redundancies to come in at between 1,000 and 1,450 employees.

“The Group also intends to enter into negotiations with its works councils to seek agreements on labour cost reductions which could help mitigate the social impact of the restructuring plan,” it added.