Report: Airbus might sell facilities to Spirit

After announcing last week that a decision would not come until 2008, reports out of Europe indicate that Airbus will sell four of its European factories to Spirit AeroSystems Holdings. Official word has not yet come from Airbus.

After announcing last week that a decision would not come until 2008, at least two reports out of Europe indicate that Airbus Industrie (Toulouse, France) will sell four of its European factories to Spirit AeroSystems Holdings (Wichita, Kan.). Official word has not yet come from Airbus.

Airbus has had seven of its European facilities on the sales block for the last several months as it attempts to reduce manufacturing costs and lure supplier-partners to its production operations. The plants, some of which are involved extensively in composites manufacturing, include in those in Meaulte and Saint Nazaire in France; Filton, U.K.; and Varel, Nordenham and Laupheim in Germany. Also, EADS, Airbus’ parent company, wants to sell a factory in Augsburg, Germany that primarily does work for Airbus even though it's a part of EADS' defense division. Bidders for at least some of the facilities include Spirit AerosSystems, Latecoere SA (Toulouse, France), OHB Technology AG (Bremen, Germany) and GKN Plc (Isle of Wight, U.K.).

On Dec. 15, Reuters said that the Internet edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported that Airbus CEO Tom Enders believes it’s possible the company could decide by Dec. 21 to sell three plants in Germany and one in Britain to Spirit. The facilities Spirit might get include those in Varel, Nordenham and Augsburg in Germany and Filton in the United Kingdom.

Enders, according to Reuters, favors Spirit because of its experience with carbon fiber. He also reportedly does not want to sell the Laupheim, Germany plant to Spirit as the parts made there do not use carbon fiber.

The Daily Telegraph in England reported on Dec. 16 that the possible sale of the Airbus facility in Filton, U.K., to Spirit has employees and unions concerned about possible job cuts should work be outsourced to the United States - particularly given the weak dollar and strong euro. The Filton plant makes wing structures for all Airbus craft and employs 1,400 people. Unions and employees and scheduled an emergency meeting for Dec. 17 to discuss implications of a purchase by Spirit.

Information: Click for reports from Reuters and The Daily Telegraph.