German, French cabinets to debate Airbus crisis

6th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2006, BERLIN - A joint meeting in Paris next week of the German and French cabinets is to debate the crisis at European aircraft maker Airbus, which this week announced its third postponement of the A380 double-decker jetliner.

6 October 2006

BERLIN - A joint meeting in Paris next week of the German and French cabinets is to debate the crisis at European aircraft maker Airbus, which this week announced its third postponement of the A380 double-decker jetliner.

Germans are worried that a restructuring at Airbus will move assembly work away from the German city of Hamburg to the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France. Paris owns 15 per cent of the Airbus parent company EADS.

A government spokesman, Thomas Steg, said in Berlin that German ministers would seek assurances over workers' jobs and set out views on the future of the EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co).

But he said the political talks would not pre-empt entrepreneurial decisions, saying, "These things are strictly separated."

German and French ministers hold a two-cabinet meeting twice per year.

In Germany this week, attitudes to France have been hostile amid a perception that the restructuring will mainly cost Germans their jobs whereas French employees will emerge unscathed. Airbus shuttles pieces of its planes among multiple factories to keep all in work.

The EADS labour representation council said Friday in Munich it had been assured by co-CEO Louis Gallois that no decisions had been taken yet on the future of individual factories, nor would this happen without advance discussion.

Although EADS stock has fallen sharply this week because of the stumbling A380 project, governments covet the defence and aerospace group. Russia recently bought 5 per cent and Spain is reportedly hoping to boost its 5.5-per-cent stake to 10 per cent.

The German federal and state governments have hinted this week that they too may seek stakes.

Meanwhile British engineering firm Rolls-Royce said Friday it would suspend for a year the production of one of its major engines, the Trent 900, following delays to the Airbus superjumbo project that they are intended for.

Airbus' flagship A380 planes are now two years late because the company has changed the design software used at the Hamburg plant and must still train engineers in how to use it.

The decision by Rolls-Royce to suspend production comes after leading commercial airlines said they were assessing their positions.

Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Qantas are among the customer airlines that must use older planes longer or borrow other aircraft while they wait for the A380, which seats about 550 passengers.

In Paris, Airbus denied news reports that its chief executive Christian Streiff was about to resign. A French business newspaper said Streiff, who took over in July, was upset at interference by the French Economy Ministry and by the other EADS CEO, Thomas Enders.

DPA

Subject: German news

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