The last A380 wing left the Airbus UK wing-making facility at Broughton, North Wales on the 6th February but as Airbus runs down the production of the giant airliner, what is next for Airbus UK and it’s manufacturing base.
One thing is clear straightaway, no one is losing their jobs here as the plant at Broughton not only makes A380 wings, it makes wings for the entire Airbus A3XX family of airliners, despite it being a sad time for A380 production, its a vibrant time for the rest of the line-up.
Airbus has already confirmed that the A380 final-assemble line at Toulouse, where the wings made at Broughton end up, will be converted to ramp-up production of the high-selling Airbus A321 Airliner including a new digitalised production line.
This means demand for the wings will also increase so workers who had previously made the A380 wings will go on to other wing assembly lines such as the A32X family, A330neo and A350 product lines.
Besides the assembly plant at Broughton, Airbus UK also has an engineering and design base at the former British Aerospace site at Filton, Bristol which designs the wings assembled in North Wales along with other components such as Landing Gear.
Between the two sites, Airbus UK employs nearly 14,000 people and many more across its supply chain.
Airbus is currently riding high with a hugely successful product line including the A32Xneo family which is being boosted by troubles with its American rival, the Boeing 737 Max and its A350XWB is becoming the long-haul aircraft of choice for many airlines.
In 2019 Airbus’ net orders mounted up to 786 while rival Boeing saw a net order rate of -87. It should be noted that the figure is largely accounted for by around 200 lost 737 Max orders which Boeing says is down to airline bankruptcies and model changes in the wake of the 737 Max grounding.
Whether Boeing redresses the balance in 2020 remains to be seen but the important thing for the UK, and North Wales in particular, is that the 6th February may have seen the last A380 wing leave Broughton, it is certainly very far from being the last wing that leaves Broughton.