Airbus planning for ‘no-deal’ Brexit as ‘baseline’ scenario: memo

By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus <AIR.PA> is planning for a “no deal” Brexit as its “baseline” scenario amid a political storm over a draft transition deal, according to a staff memo seen by Reuters.

Europe’s largest aerospace group on Thursday welcomed a draft divorce agreement between London and Brussels, but said there needed to be more clarity to allow businesses to plan.

With Prime Minister Theresa May facing a battle to get her draft agreement on the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union through parliament, and a potential revolt from members of her party, Airbus vowed to pursue contingency plans.

“The draft agreement is certainly encouraging but we must remember it is subject to parliamentary approvals,” the head of the company’s internal Brexit task force told staff.

“For the teams working on preparing for Brexit we must stay focused and keep working at full speed from a baseline of no deal.”

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on the memo but told Reuters, “the situation remains unclear, so we have to continue planning and putting in place mitigation measures,” adding this position was unchanged since a paper published in June.

The comments echo those of German carmaker BMW <BMWG.DE>, which has said that with the politics so uncertain, it would continue to prepare for ‘no-deal’ or leaving the single EU market and customs union with no agreed transition.

Airbus, which employs 14,000 people in Britain and builds most wings for its jetliners there, said in June a ‘no-deal’ exit would cost it billions of euros and force it to reconsider its investments and “long-term footprint” in the country.

Chief Executive Tom Enders on Thursday called for “the removal of uncertainty as soon as possible”.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Dominique Vidalon)

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