Regional Disputes Delay Airbus Restructuring
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The European aircraft maker Airbus is not in the clear either. The company hoped to launch a restructuring plan yesterday but politics got in the way. Kyle James reports from Berlin.
KYLE JAMES: The parent company of Airbus, EADS, had hoped to announce a plan that would reduce overhead costs by 30 percent and save $2.6 billion a year. But disagreements between France and Germany over where cuts should take place have put those plans on hold. Airbus is trying to nurse itself back to financial health after production delays and a weak dollar have hurt competitiveness.
The restructuring could involve up to 10,000 layoffs at sites in several European countries, and politicians have been lobbying to preserve jobs at home. For (unintelligible) presidential election coming up, the government there doesn't want headlines announcing large job cuts splashed across front pages, according to aerospace analyst Zafar Khan(ph) with Securite Generale.
Mr. ZAFAR KHAN (Aerospace Analyst, Securite Generale): The issue of layoffs and redundancy is quite sensitive politically. And the Germans and the French governments are looking for equality in terms of how many people are laid off at the various occasions. Often, you know, the politics and the commercial rationale don't go together well.
JAMES: Kahn says the delay in instituting a restructuring plan benefits Boeing, which pulled ahead of Airbus in the orders race in 2006. French President Jacques Chirac will discuss the matter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when they meet in Berlin on Friday, in what some are already calling the Airbus Summit.
For NPR News, I'm Kyle James in Berlin.
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