Business

Airbus has 'no intention' of pulling out of UK over EU

Airbus at Broughton Image copyright Airbus

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier has said he has "no intention" of pulling manufacturing out of the UK if the country votes to leave the European Union (EU).

Speaking to the BBC at the Paris Airshow, Mr Bregier said the aircraft manufacturer was committed to its 16,000 employees based in the UK.

He added Airbus had no plans to relocate its British factories.

Airbus has said in the past that a "Brexit" might change its plans.

Last month, Airbus UK's chief executive, Paul Kahn, said that if the UK voted to leave the EU in the planned in-out referendum, Airbus would reconsider future investment in the UK.

On Tuesday, Mr Bregier admitted he would have to make a judgement about what the consequences would be for the competitiveness of his business following the referendum.

His comments come as ministers tabled an amendment to the EU referendum bill on Monday evening, ruling out holding the plebiscite on 5 May 2016, the same day as Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assembly elections and local elections.

It means the referendum is unlikely to take place before the autumn of 2016, depending on the prime minister's ability to negotiate concessions from his European counterparts and despite calls for the UK to get the vote over with.

Businesses have repeated raised concerns about the level of uncertainty caused by the timing of the referendum and the potential economic harm caused as investment decisions are delayed as a result.

Last month, Mr Kahn said the UK must compete for international investment.

"The best way to guarantee this is by remaining part of the EU," he said.

"I believe that it is vital for a company such as Airbus to come out and make a stand in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union."

'Reconsider investment'

Airbus, the world's second-largest aircraft manufacturer after Boeing, employs 6,000 people at its site at Broughton, north Wales, where it assembles the wings for all Airbus aircraft.

Several thousand more people are employed at Filton, near Bristol, designing wings and testing landing gear.

Mr Kahn stressed that if the UK were to leave the EU, the company would not suddenly close.

But he added: "If after an exit from the European Union, economic conditions in Britain were less favourable for business than in other parts of Europe, or beyond, would Airbus reconsider future investment in the United Kingdom? Yes, absolutely."

Airbus is one of Europe's biggest industrial enterprises spanning civil aviation, defence and space, with operations in Germany, France and Spain.

In the event of a British exit from the EU, Mr Kahn suggested the company could face more red tape in areas such as work visas and trade barriers.

He said he was not "blindly supporting Britain's membership of the EU", adding: "I welcome the UK government's intentions to deliver positive and hoped-for reforms - which would create a leaner and more efficient EU."

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