Airbus agrees to sell U.K. facility to GKN

GKN reportedly paid more than $243 million for the facility, which will produce carbon fiber composite structures for the A350 XWB wing sets.

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Airbus Industrie SA (Toulouse, France) announced on Sept. 15 that it and GKN (East Cowes, Isles of Wight, U.K.) have signed a contract under which GKN will purchase the wing component and assemblies manufacturing unit based at Airbus' site at Filton, U.K. This will result in all operational business, assets and activities, within the parameters agreed, being transferred to GKN. As a result of the transaction, GKN is fully supporting the Airbus Power8 initiative and making further investment in the unit in order that Filton will continue to play its important role in Airbus' current and future programs. Several news organizations have reported that GKN paid £136 million/$243.6 million for the facility.

The manufacturing unit includes a total workforce of approximately 1,500 employees (both manufacturing workers and support staff), which equates to around 25 percent of Airbus' total workforce at Filton. The unit is responsible for producing wing components such as the wing leading and trailing edges; outer wingbox assemblies and shroud box; single-aisle wing electrical harnesses; ribs and other machined parts; pipe forming, ducting and other detail components.

"This sale is an important element of our restructuring programme Power8. It will provide new opportunities for those involved and will help to strengthen the Filton aerospace site and the region as a whole," said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. "For Airbus this decision will allow us to concentrate on our role of being an aircraft architect and integrator. Our remaining wing, landing gear and fuel systems business at Filton is core to this objective."

The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to complete by the end of the year. The contract with GKN also includes major Airbus A350 XWB work packages for the carbon fiber composite, wing fixed trailing edge, which GKN plans to manufacture locally.

Airbus is in the process of selling off several manufacturing facilities in England, France and Germany in an effort to reduce production costs and develop a series of risk-sharing production partners, like GKN.