Airbus CEO Tom Enders warned on Thursday that his company would have to take potentially “very painful decisions” for its UK operations if Britain pulls out of the EU without an agreement with its partners. “It’s a disgrace that more than two years after the result of the 2016 referendum, businesses still cannot plan properly for the future,” Enders said in a videotaped message posted on the site of the European group. “We, along with many of our peers, have repeatedly called for clarity, but we still have no idea what is going on here.”
Airbus employs 14,000 persons in the United Kingdom, “with a further 110,000 working in jobs supported by our UK programmes, which generate roughly six billion pounds of turnover every year,” the Airbus CEO said.
He stressed that the size of the group’s operations in the UK and the fact that it has “huge plans here” would not prevent it from moving elsewhere, a claim made by some hard-line Brexiteers. “They are wrong!” he stressed. “Of course, it is not possible to pick up and move our large U.K. factories to other parts of the world immediately. However, airspace is a long-term business and we could be forced to redirect future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”
“Make no mistake,” Enders added, “there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft…”
Finally, the Airbus chief had a message for UK politicians: “If you’re really sure that Brexit is the best for Britain, come together and deliver a pragmatic withdrawal agreement that allows for an orderly Brexit.”