Airbus pauses airplane production in Alabama and Germany due to COVID-19

Airbus pauses airplane production in Alabama and Germany due to COVID-19
An employee works on a section of fuselage inside the new Airbus SE A320 passenger aircraft family assembly line hangar in Hamburg, Germany. (Bloomberg)

Airbus SE is pausing production at its Alabama factory and at two German sites to adjust to a demand slowdown and supply issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said in a statement Monday that it halted production at its German plants in Bremen and Stade for parts of April, while activity at the Mobile facility where the A220 and A320 aircraft are made will stop at least through April 29.

The decision comes in response to the pandemic, which has led to high inventory levels and affected production flow as sites seek to follow government requirements. The move is the latest among a series of isolated measures the European plane-maker has taken since the spread of the virus began. It has held off on instituting an official cut in production.

Airbus is pausing production at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley final assembly line. (Airbus)

Airbus told its employees in a letter Friday that a return to full operations isn’t feasible in the short term because of parts shortages and the inability of struggling airlines to take delivery of new aircraft, according to people familiar with the matter. The European plane-maker also asked workers in France to take 10 days of vacation between now and mid-May, so it can meet demand once business resumes while a similar move was being discussed in Germany, the people said.

Activities in Bremen will be paused from April 6 until April 27, while Stade will be on hold from April 5-11, with some additional pause days in the weeks that follow in selected areas. Key business-support services will remain active at both sites and will follow social distancing measures, the company said.

The Mobile production line will be paused from this week until April 29. With Canadian activity also on hold, both assembly lines for the A220 are now offline.

Airbus previously paused production and assembly work in France and Spain for four days to implement health and safety measures, with activity there resuming gradually after March 23. Commercial aircraft wing production operations in the U.K. and commercial aircraft production activities in Spain and Canada remain on pause to reflect stock levels and government restrictions.

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