June 22, 2012
Credit: Credit: Airbus Military
The consortium producing the Voyager air-to-air refuelling planes for Britain has moved the work to Spain, leading to the likely loss of 320 UK jobs.
The EADS-led AirTanker consortium, in which British aero electrics group Cobham is a shareholder, on Friday said Airbus Military and Cobham Aviation Services had agreed that 10 aircraft would be converted to air-to-air refuelling jets in Getafe, near Madrid, rather than at Cobham’s facility in Bournemouth, south England.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed a 10.5 billion pounds ($16.44 billion) deal to lease 14 modified Airbus A330 aircraft from the AirTanker consortium in 2008.
AirTanker said the move to put the engineers and design team in one place would help the consortium deliver the planes to the UK “on time and to cost”.
The first two planes were converted in Spain by Airbus Military, the aircraft’s designers. Planes three and four will be converted in Britain but the remainder will be upgraded in Spain.
“The change means that up to 320 UK jobs will unfortunately go - this affects 237 Cobham jobs and those of 83 contractors - and the change will happen by the end of the first quarter of next year,” a source close to Cobham told Reuters.
The tanker planes, which are 60 metres long, can carry 100,000 litres of fuel and pass it on to other planes at a rate of 5,000 litres a minute.
“Cobham and Airbus Military have mutually recognised that it is the best way of meeting their own commitments and have taken the responsible decision to transfer the work,” said AirTanker chief executive Phill Blundell.
Cobham shares in London were down 2 percent at 228.15 pence by 0820 GMT.