Airbus warns could leave Britain if no Brexit deal

A new Airbus A330neo is pictured after landing at the end of its first flight on October 19, 2017, at the Toulouse-Blagnac airport, near Toulouse. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Airbus warns could leave Britain if no Brexit deal

  • Industry analysts say Airbus would be unlikely to pull out of the UK abruptly because of long lead times and waiting lists for its planes
  • Airbus, which makes wings for all its passenger jets in the UK, said that leaving both the EU’s single market and customs union immediately

LONDON: Aviation giant Airbus has warned it could pull out of Britain if it leaves the European Union without a deal, upping the pressure Friday on Prime Minister Theresa May to make progress in Brexit negotiations with Brussels.
The European group, which directly employs nearly 15,000 people, warned that crashing out of the bloc would be “catastrophic” and force it to consider its investments.
“Put simply, a ‘no deal’ scenario directly threatens Airbus’ future in the UK,” said chief operating officer Tom Williams.
May’s government holds out the possibility of walking away as a negotiating tactic, but says she expects to get a deal before it exits the bloc on March 29 next year.
“We have made significant progress toward agreeing a deep and special partnership with the EU to ensure trade remains as free and frictionless as possible, including in the aerospace sector,” a spokeswoman said.
However, talks are stalled on the issue of the Irish border and Britain’s indecision over what it wants.
EU leaders, who will meet May at a summit next week, have warned that time is running out, while Brussels has urged them to step up preparations for no deal.
Britain intends to leave the EU’s single market and customs union to forge its own independent trade policy and end free movement of labor.
In a Brexit risk assessment, Airbus said if plans for a transition deal failed and this break happened in March, it “would lead to severe disruption.”
“This scenario would force Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country,” the report said.
Airbus builds wings and landing gear for commercial aircraft in Britain and also has a space technology center in the country, supporting 117,000 jobs overall.
In Wales, where one of the largest of more than 25 Airbus sites is based, the devolved government run by the UK’s opposition Labour party said the warning was “extremely worrying.”
Labour’s UK Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said May’s “reckless decision to keep no deal on the table and to rule out a customs union or strong single market deal after Brexit is putting jobs and the economy at risk.”
Former Wales minister Stephen Crabb, a member of May’s Conservative party, said it was a “wake-up call.”
Steve Turner, of Britain’s biggest trade union Unite, added: “People voted to leave the EU, but didn’t back leave to lose their jobs and see their livelihoods smashed on the cliff face of a ‘hard Brexit’.”
However, Ian Paisley Jr., an MP for the Brexit-supporting Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up May’s government, said it was a “scare story.”
“The EU needs a deal and the UK is going to get a deal!“
A string of airlines, banks and other corporate household names have already activated their contingency plans to move jobs or restructure because of Brexit.
The government has agreed a post-Brexit transition period that will last until December 2020, to allow time for a new economic partnership to be struck with the EU.
But Airbus said this was “too short” for a new agreement to be made and “too short for Airbus to implement the required changes with its extensive supply chain.”
It said it would “carefully monitor any new investments,” and Williams admitted that “in any scenario, Brexit has severe negative consequences.”
May’s spokeswoman said there would be talks with Airbus later on Friday, adding: “There is an open dialogue there and we continue to talk to them.”
Carmaker BMW also warned that uncertainty was affecting the investment climate.
“If we don’t get clarity in the next couple of months we have to start making those contingency plans — which means investing money in systems that we might not need, in warehouses that might not be usable in the future, in effectively making the UK automotive industry less competitive than it is in a very competitive world right now,” Ian Robertson, special representative of the BMW Group in the UK, told the BBC.


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 38 min 11 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.”