British engine maker Rolls-Royce cuts 4,600 jobs

Rolls-Royce has some 16,000 staff at its UK operational base in Derby, above, central England. (Reuters)
Updated 14 June 2018
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British engine maker Rolls-Royce cuts 4,600 jobs

  • Rolls-Royce employs about 55,000 staff worldwide, almost half of whom are in Britain
  • Rolls-Royce had in January announced a major overhaul of its operations, reducing the number of core units and basing the remainder around civil aerospace, defense and power systems
LONDON: Rolls-Royce plans to axe 4,600 mainly British management roles by 2020 to further slash costs, the UK maker of plane engines announced on Thursday.
“Rolls-Royce announces the next stage in our drive for pace and simplicity with a proposed restructuring that will deliver improved returns, higher margins and increased cash flow,” the group said in a statement.
The London-listed company, whose engines are used in Airbus and Boeing aircraft, said the latest cuts would produce £400 million ($536 million) of annual cost savings by the end of 2020.
Rolls has faced a tough trading environment in recent years on weak demand for its power systems, in particular ones used by the marine industry, resulting in the loss of about two thousand jobs alongside the creation of new posts.
The latest update will result in the largest cull at the group since 2001, when it axed 5,000 jobs on a global economic downturn and following the September 11 attacks in the US.
“Our world-leading technology gives Rolls-Royce the potential to generate significant profitable growth,” the company’s chief executive Warren East said in Thursday’s announcement.
“The creation of a more streamlined organization with pace and simplicity at its heart will enable us to deliver on that promise, generating higher returns while being able to invest for the future,” he added.
Although Rolls roared back into profit last year, this was largely owing to a recovery in the pound.
While the plunge in the value of the pound in the wake of Britain’s 2016 vote in favor of Brexit helped many exporters, Rolls-Royce was forced to book a vast charge as it had not hedged against such a swing in the currency.
Rolls said the latest round of restructuring, leading to the loss of many corporate-supporting roles, was expected to cost the group £500 million, while about two-thirds of the job losses would be in the UK.
East, who has implemented a group-wide restructuring since his appointment as chief executive in 2015, insisted that the latest cull was not linked to repairs it has been forced to carry out on Trent engines.
Used by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 superjumbo, the engines have seen some parts wear quicker than expected, forcing Rolls to carry out costly repairs.
Rolls employs about 55,000 staff worldwide, almost half of whom are in Britain.
The company meanwhile has some 16,000 staff at its UK operational base in Derby, central England.
“Most of these management and support functions (set to go) are in Derby and therefore, it will be most strongly felt in Derby,” East said in an interview with BBC radio.
Rolls had in January announced a major overhaul of its operations, reducing the number of core units and basing the remainder around civil aerospace, defense and power systems.
“We have world-class technology in Rolls-Royce, but... (not) a world-class business to go along with it,” East said Thursday in a call with reporters.
At the same time, the company has said it would consider selling its commercial marine business, while in April, Rolls sold German division L’Orange for €700 million to US group Woodward.
Speaking to the BBC, East said he saw opportunities in China.
“We look at China and we see an opportunity there for aircraft engine... that’s where a lot of opportunities are.”


50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

Boom Supersonic co-founder, Blake Scholl, poses for a photograph in front of an artists impression of his company's proposed design for an supersonic aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 18, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 7 min 48 sec ago
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50 years after Concorde, US start-up eyes supersonic future

  • Boom Supersonic’s aircraft is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year
  • The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people

WEYBRIDGE, United Kingdom: Luxury air travel faster than the speed of sound: A US start-up is aiming to revive commercial supersonic flight 50 years after the ill-fated Concorde first took to the skies.
Blake Scholl, the former Amazon staffer who co-founded Boom Supersonic, delivered the pledge this week in front of a fully-restored Concorde jet at the Brooklands aviation and motor museum in Weybridge, southwest of London.
Boom Supersonic’s backers include Richard Branson and Japan Airlines and other players are eyeing the same segment.
The company aims to manufacture a prototype jet next year but its plans have been met with skepticism in some quarters.
“The story of Concorde is the story of a journey started but not completed — and we want to pick up on it,” Scholl said.
The event coincided with the nearby Farnborough Airshow.
“Today... the world is more linked than it’s ever been before and the need for improved human connection has never been greater,” Scholl said.
“At Boom, we are inspired at what was accomplished half a century ago,” he added, speaking in front of a former British Airways Concorde that flew for the first time in 1969.

Boom Supersonic’s aircraft, dubbed Baby Boom, is expected by the company to fly for the first time next year.
“If we can’t continue where you left off, and build on that, then the shame is on us,” Scholl said, addressing himself to an audience that included retired Concorde staff.
“Our vision is to build a faster airplane that is accessible to more and more people, to anybody who flies.”
Boom Supersonic is making its debut at Farnborough and hopes to produce its new-generation jets in the mid-2020s or later, with the aim of slashing journey times by half.
The proposed aircraft has a maximum flying range of 8,334 kilometers (5,167 miles) at a speed of Mach 2.2 or 2,335 kilometers per hour.
If it takes off, it would be the first supersonic passenger aircraft since Concorde took its final flight in 2003.
The Concorde was retired following an accident in 2000 in which a Concorde crashed shortly after takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people.
Some analysts remain skeptical over the push back into supersonic.
“Supersonic is not what passengers or airlines want right now,” said Strategic Aero analyst Saj Ahmed, stressing that many travelers wanted cheap low-cost carriers instead.
Ahmed said supersonic jets were “very unattractive” because of high start-up development costs, considerations about noise pollution and high prices as well as limited capacity.

Independent air transport consultant John Strickland also noted supersonic travel was unproven commercially.
“Business traffic, on the face of it, is the most lucrative for airlines,” Strickland told AFP.
“But if there is an economic downturn or something happens where the market for business class traffic drains away, then you have nothing else left to do with that aircraft.
“I think it’s going to be some time before we see whether it can establish a large viable market... in the way that Concorde never managed to do.”
These concerns have not stopped interest from other players.
US aerospace giant Boeing had last month unveiled its “hypersonic” airliner concept, which it hopes will fly at Mach 5 — or five times the speed of sound — when it arrives on the scene in 20 to 30 years.
And in April, NASA inked a deal for US giant Lockheed Martin to develop a supersonic “X-plane.”