Exclusive: Airbus may cut more defense jobs in German export row

Fri May 23, 2014 8:37am EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Victoria Bryan

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany faces defense industry job cuts beyond those already planned and could even see factories closed or moved abroad if the government insists on toughening restrictions on arms exports, the head of Airbus Group (AIR.PA: Quote) told Reuters.

The company's defense and space division already plans to shed some 2,000 industrial jobs in Germany.

"I am concerned about the increasingly restrictive arms export policy of Germany. This might trigger additional layoffs in Germany, beyond our current reduction plans," Chief Executive Tom Enders told Reuters.

"Eventually, we might have to consider closing down entire sites or product lines or moving them outside of Germany."

The comments, in an exclusive interview at this week's Berlin Airshow, raise the stakes in a growing battle with the German government over the future of the defense industry.

Earlier this week, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel vowed a much more cautious approach to licensing arms exports, signaling a change in policy from the previous coalition government under which sales rose.

Airbus Group is in the midst of cutting a total of 5,800 jobs, mainly in its Defense and Space division.

Enders said it was too early to say how many extra job cuts might be involved since the Berlin government has been in power less than 6 months.   Continued...

Volunteers prepare an Airbus sign for the upcoming ILA Berlin Air Show in Selchow near Schoenefeld south of Berlin May 19, 2014. The ILA runs from May 20 till 25. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz