Airbus is to cut 15,000 jobs globally as the plane-maker slashes staff numbers to match the collapse in demand for new aircraft.
Some 1,700 jobs will go in the UK, while France and Germany will each see about 5,000 positions lost, Spain 900, and a further 1,300 workers will lose their jobs at other operations worldwide.
Guillaume Faury, Airbus chief executive, said: “Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced.”
Workers had been braced for bad news after weeks of speculation about when and where the 10,000-plus redundancies will fall.
“We’ve known this was coming for a long time and had expected it to be made weeks ago, but the French and German governments bailing out their own aerospace industries pushed it back,” said one source close to Airbus.
In early June, the Paris government detailed a €15bn (£13.4bn) support package for its aerospace industry to safeguard 100,000 aviation jobs at risk from coronavirus, following on from a similar move by Berlin, fuelling calls for UK to take similar action.
Airbus has about 134,000 staff worldwide, with a tenth in the UK. The bulk of its UK workers are at its plant in Broughton, north Wales, which makes wings for almost all the company’s commercial jets which are shipped to aircraft assembly lines in Europe and the US. About half the manufacturing staff at Broughton are furloughed.
The company also has another major base at Filton, near Bristol, where engineers design the advanced wings and landing gear on Airbus jets.
In April, Airbus cut the rate at which it builds aircraft by a third to about 60 a month as it battled the impact of coronavirus that has seen demand for air travel collapse, and also raised €15bn in fresh funding.
The job losses will be made no later than next summer and although the company will try to limit them to voluntary redundancies and retirements, Mr Faury said compulsory job losses “cannot be ruled out”.
Airbus has seen commercial aircraft business activity drop by close to 40pc in recent months as the industry faces an unprecedented crisis, the chief executive said.
He added: “The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic.
“Now, we must ensure that we can sustain our enterprise and emerge from the crisis as a healthy, global aerospace leader, adjusting to the overwhelming challenges of our customers.
“To confront that reality, we must now adopt more far-reaching measures.”
The Airbus boss said the cuts could have been “significantly worse” if it had not been for employment support and job retention schemes provided by governments, with some European systems offering aid lasting several years.
“These jobs only affect the 90,000 people working in producing commercial aircraft,” he said, pointing to the “40pc of business which has disappeared”.
“If you work out the ratio, it shows how exposed we were. Thanks to efforts of [governments] we have avoided a level of job cuts in direct proportion to the impact.”
Although France and Germany have jobs support schemes which last much longer than the UK’s, which is due to be withdrawn in the autumn, Mr Faury denied that different government aid packages had affected how the job losses has been decided.
He had previously warned that the UK’s shorter support schemes could lead to “more permanent” jobs losses in Airbus’s British operations, and the company has in the past warned of the risks that it sees Brexit posing to its UK plants.
“We are adapting to the situation,” he said. “We are looking at the workload on our workforce. There is no Brexit or influence on of any other nature. “We are adapting to the number of wings we need to put on our planes. It is a mechanical translation of the workload.”
Paul Everitt, chief executive of UK aerospace industry trade body ADS described the sector as facing “undoubtedly the toughest period the global aerospace industry ever”.
Job losses at Airbus will to send shockwaves into its supply chain, as companies which provide components respond by cutting jobs themselves.
Mr Everitt added: “Being the largest commercial aircraft company in the UK, Airbus is central to our aerospace industry and has a close relationship with its highly integrated UK supply chain.”
According to ADS calculations, aerospace supply chain companies were o the verge of cutting 20,000 jobs even before the Airbus news was announced.
Union Unite describe the job cuts as an “act of industrial vandalism on a national asset” and urged the British government to follow European governments by bailing out the sector.
Steve Turner, Unite assistant general-secretary said: “Over the weeks of this crisis, this country's aerospace jobs have gone hand over fist yet not one word of support or act of assistance has been forthcoming from the government.
“The UK government is watching from the sidelines while a national asset is destroyed. The prime minister and his team must step up to the plate. UK aerospace workers deserve the same support and investment that Mr Macron and Ms Merkel provide to their workers.”