June 28, 2016 / 1:32 PM / 3 years ago

Airbus chief says UK is 'indispensable' to Airbus

An Airbus logo is pictured on the company booth during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

PARIS (Reuters) - Britain is an indispensable part of the European aerospace industry, the head of Airbus Group (AIR.PA) said on Wednesday, softening earlier comments he made on the country’s shock referendum decision to leave the European Union.

Airbus builds wings for passenger jets in north Wales and has other major factories in France, Germany and Spain.

Airbus Group campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU, and has said it will review its long-term investment strategy after Thursday’s unexpected decision to leave the EU.

“Britain remains a member of our family. It is an integral and indispensable part of our European aerospace industry,” Airbus Group Chief Executive Tom Enders said on Wednesday at the opening of a new headquarters campus for Europe’s largest aerospace group in Toulouse, France.

“Our sites in the UK are among the most efficient and competitive sites in Airbus and competitiveness is the key word for our industrial presence for our industrial investments in the UK but also in France, Germany and elsewhere in the world.”

Quoting his predecessor, Frenchman Louis Gallois, Enders said of Airbus, “we are the part of Europe that works and we in Airbus will work even harder to do our job to demonstrate that a united Europe is the one that the world needs tomorrow.”

Airbus was founded in 1970 and became a joint project between Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

Aerospace experts said last week Britain could no longer take for granted a strategic position inside the 46-year-old aerospace group, while stressing that a shift towards competition away from political factors had been under way for some time.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Andrew Callus and Louise Heavens

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