In written evidence to the Commons’ Business Committee, Airbus have warned that: “Not reaching a deal with the EU would have significant consequences for Airbus and its supply chain”.
Airbus employs around 6,000 people at its wings plant in Broughton Flintshire and is concerned about its ability to move employees and products around the EU. The written evidence provided by the manufacturer says that around 80,000 employees cross the UK-EU27 border per year and it “exports over £6bn worth of product into the EU.” In fact, Katherine Bennett, Airbus’ senior vice president, told the committee: “Every single thing we export goes into the EU – we don’t export anywhere else”.
While Airbus says it wants to make sure that it can continue to support its UK supply chain, the ability for employees to move across borders without delay is essential. It is concerned about “new visa requirements for these cases post Brexit” which could “lead to potential delays and costs in moving skilled employees to where the business needs them the most”. These additional complications and costs to operations “will affect the long-term competitiveness of UK sites”.
Airbus’ UK sites are experts in wing design, however, Bennett warns that “other countries would dearly love to design and build wings…Some of them already do; we do build wings in China now, and believe you me they are knocking on the door as a result of the situation we are in in this country.”
The business provides many highly-skilled jobs in design, manufacturing, and engineering which could be at risk if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Rachel Reeves, chair of the Commons business select committee said: “This evidence we have received suggests the impact of Brexit and increased customs checks could mean a potential £1.5bn in added costs for the UK aerospace sector…That is extremely worrying and risks making our aerospace industry less competitive and driving up costs at a crucial time for our economy.”
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