MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris. The European aircraft maker Airbus announced a major restructuring today. Ten thousand jobs will be cut over the next four years, and some manufacturing plants will be sold. Airbus has been struggling for more than a year and is recently falling behind American rival Boeing in the number of planes on order. NPR's Emily Harris reports from Berlin.
EMILY HARRIS: Many of Airbus' troubles have been blamed on massive delays in delivering the biggest passenger plane in the world, the A380. Co-CEO of parent company EADS Louis Gallois says the A380's construction problems are serious, but more serious is the fact that Airbus builds in a Euro economy and sells planes in a currency that's steadily declined against the Euro for the past four years - the U.S. dollar.
Mr. LOUIS GALLOIS (Co-Chief Executive Officer, EADS): Since the launching of the A380, the price competitiveness of Airbus has decreased by 20 percent only because of the decrease of the U.S. dollar.
HARRIS: The new Airbus is supposed to be cheaper, faster and leaner. France and Germany will each lose about 4,000 jobs, 1,600 will go in Britain, and 400 in Spain. Half are contractor positions, and the other half staff. Several plants are to be sold, but would continue to manufacture parts Airbus will buy. Gallois says he wants to develop a network of suppliers like Boeing has.
Mr. GALLOIS: I see our competitor. They have around them a network of very strong partners, and with these partners, they can share development costs, capital expenditures and risk.
HARRIS: Airbus also has to balance the competing demands of the French, German and Spanish governments, which either own EADS stock or heavily influence the company. Gallois calls national interests poison for Airbus, but politicians say splitting the losses among various countries was a hard-fought deal.
Labor unions are angry about the job cuts. Some workers stopped production in protest today. But while Airbus is shedding jobs in Europe, it just added a few dozen in the United States. A new engineering center in Mobile, Alabama opened this week. Emily Harris, NPR News, Berlin.
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