The operations boss of Airbus says the European aerospace major is entering a “dangerous phase” because of Brexit, which could complicate its free movement of staff and products.
Tom Williams, the chief operating officer and president of commercial aircraft at Airbus, made the comments before British policymakers on parliament’s powerful treasury select committee.
The Airbus chief was asked if the company would continue to prosper in the face of Brexit – and whether it could survive without a presence in Britain.
“If we didn’t have our operations in the UK operating seamlessly, that would be a really big concern for us,” Mr Williams told MPs on the committee, indicating this could boost its fierce Seattle-based US rival Boeing.
“And I am sure there would be many people in Seattle and in Washington that would be more than delighted to see this scenario played out, because they will take every opportunity to try undermine the success of Airbus.
“And I take the view that whatever is being decided in Washington, it will also be done very much with what is good for Seattle. So we are entering into a dangerous phase.”
The aircraft manufacturer employs a total of 15,000 people in Britain, including sites at Filton in southwest England and Broughton in north Wales, designing and manufacturing wings.
One week ago today, the Conservative prime minister Theresa May unveiled her Brexit blueprint, announcing for the first time that Britain will leave Europe’s single market in order to control EU immigration.
Mrs May insisted on Tuesday she will trigger the two-year Brexit process by the end of March, despite a Supreme Court ruling that the premier must first secure parliament’s approval.