Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois admits that continued industrial action by employees angry at the prospect of 10,000 job losses could disrupt aircraft deliveries.
Speaking at a press conference to present 2006 results for Airbus parent EADS, which were overshadowed by the losses at Airbus, Gallois says: “For the time being we stick to the delivery forecast for 2007 but you know we are vulnerable, and we are more vulnerable because of the very high rate of production.
“It's a question we raise with unions inside Airbus. We are collectively responsible for the delivery schedule," Gallois adds
Setting out the Power8 restructuring plan designed to turn around the troubled aircraft manufacturer last week, Gallois said he believed the manufacturer had “responsible unions” and did not believe they would jeopardise deliveries.
But an estimated 15,000 Airbus workers marched through Toulouse in protest at the job cuts Airbus insists are necessary as part of Power8 and more strikes are threatened.
France’s Force Ouvrière union says further stoppages are being planned for 16 March across EADS Group sites in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. The action will be organised and co-ordinated by the individual unions at a local level within each country. Power8, he adds, has repercussions for many of the firm’s divisions besides Airbus.
Gallois is due to meet representatives of Airbus’s workforce on 14 March. “We have to find a means to overcome the present difficulties in this dialogue. I wish to listen to them but also they have to listen to me,” he says. “We can’t change the targets.”
EADS meanwhile is also delaying a decision on issuing a dividend to shareholders until a board meeting on 8 April, Gallois revealed. “The board will adopt in due time the proposal of the resolution. ‘In due time’ means before 8 April,” Gallois says.
The company is thought to have avoided releasing a dividend before the release of 2006 annual results because it is considering a capital increase. Gallois two days ago insisted there was no immediate requirement for a capital increase, but noted over the coming years there would be a need for external funding. Co-chief executive Tom Enders today reiterated Gallois’ comments, insisting there is “no urgent need” for a capital increase.