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Chirac and Merkel clear way for Airbus restructuring

Chirac and Merkel clear way for Airbus restructuring
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French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have given their conditional support for Airbus’ restructuring programme at a summit meeting in Meseberg north of Berlin. The two said in a joint statement that the Airbus management had their full support in its efforts to bring the company back to competitivity. However they said that compulsory redundancy should be avoided where possible and that sacrifices should be shared out evenly between shareholder countries.

“In a spirit of responsibility we have today evoked the current economic difficulties of the company, and underlined that we want to share the opportunities as well as the risks between the two countries,” said Chancellor Merkel. Chirac said that the propositions put forward by Airbus president Louis Gallois were reasonable and responsible, but he warned: “There should be no compulsory redundancies and no site closures that aren’t properly organised with appropriate compensation.”

With the political green light given, an announcement by Airbus over plans to make 5 billion euros worth of economies, the so-called “Power 8 Plan”, is thought to be imminent. A key issue is the share-out of work on future contracts: Germany is believed to have accepted a compromise in which it would receive more work on the small A320 in return for accepting a bigger French role on the new A350 mid-sized plane. The cutbacks have become necessary because of losses incurred on the A380 super jumbo.