Airbus warns on plans to stockpile parts against Brexit

Luqa, Malta July 16, 2016: Fastjet Airbus A319-132

Airbus (EPA: AIR) has warned of potential plans to leave the UK following Brexit due to the lack of clarity over customs rules.

The European aerospace manufacturer has said that despite reassurances from the British government, the group may stockpile parts for a smoother operation.

Speaking to BBC’s Today programme the Vice President for Airbus UK, Katherine Bennett, said: “We spend £5 billion a year on the UK supply chain… it is really important the parts don’t get held up in warehouses.”

“We need conditions right for us, we just don’t need these burdens… which may make Airbus think differently [about its base].”

The group is one of the UK’s biggest manufacturing employers, employing an estimated 15,000 people.

Bennett told the BBC that she agreed with Theresa May’s plans to remain a member of EASA, the air safety certification agency, which she ensured in her 43-minute Mansion House speech. However, she insisted that importance of customs, where a short delay at Dover can be “pretty critical for us”.

“It would be very expensive for us and a burden we don’t want to be suffering. Our key preference is for the UK to remain a home nation for Airbus. But we really need the conditions for us to be effective. We don’t want extra costs on our UK business which may make Airbus think differently about us.”

The group have recently had to face press reports about plans to cut thousands of jobs. Airbus said it has a policy of “first addressing workforce issues with its social partners” before there is any public disclosure.

In a statement released on Monday, Airbus said it “deeply regrets that the process on the current subject matter has been disturbed by leaks to the media, which resulted in excessive reporting about alleged job cuts in its four home countries”.