Julian Moxon/PARIS

Spanish state-owned manufacturer CASA has revealed a massive five-year investment plan to prepare the company for privatisation and to secure its place in the wider European consolidation. The plans have raised a negative reaction from unions, however.

Up to Ptas141 billion ($900 million) is to be spent on research to build up capabilities in carbonfibre composites and light military aircraft. These represent core businesses for CASA, which builds one of the composite wings for the Eurofighter programme and supplies composite horizontal stabilisers for the Airbus range. The manufacturer has a 4.2% stake in the consortium.

CASA's parent, state-holding company SEPI, confirms that the privatisation process is due to follow the three-stage procedure laid down for other Spanish privatisations, starting with up to 30% going to one or more trade partners. British Aerospace already confirms that it would be interested in a stake, while Aerospatiale of France and Italy's Alenia could be in the running.

The second stage would see an alliance with a Spanish technology or finance company, finally followed by a stock exchange listing.

The company will maintain its seven factories in Spain, but plans to cut close to 1,000 of its 8,000-strong workforce, which unions have quickly attacked as "unacceptable".They are also reported to be "-resolutely opposed" to the plans to pool the civil composites business into Airbus Industrie as it restructures from a consortium to a standalone corporation. The prospect of military aircraft technology also going into a broader European grouping has met with similar opposition.

"These are our two strongest areas of activity in the European context, and will determine the future of the Spanish aerospace business. There is therefore no question of giving them to Airbus Industrie," says Javier Ramos, president of the union representing the majority of the workforce.

Sepi confirms that, in the near term, CASA is pushing to secure fresh orders for the new C295 military transport, a stretched version of the CN235 developed with Indonesia, which, together with increasing Airbus and Eurofighter work, is expected to result in a rise in sales by nearly 12% this year, to Ptas135 billion.

Source: Flight International