Airbus chief warns UK over post-Brexit free movement
Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Tom Williams, told British MPs on Tuesday, “we are entering a dangerous phase," if Airbus cannot seamlessly move people and products around the EU following Brexit.
Williams said that Washington would be "delighted" if Brexit makes life difficult for Airbus – which is based in Blagnac, France, a suburb of Toulouse, and with European production and manufacturing facilities mainly in France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Giving evidence to the Commons Treasury Select Committee, Williams added that the US would make decisions based on the benefits to US rival Boeing.
Williams, also President of commercial aircraft at Airbus, told the committee's inquiry into Britain leaving the EU, that he was "sceptical" that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was effective at resolving disputes.
He added that relying on WTO rules if an EU deal could not be reached was not a "sensible fall-back position".
Airbus and its main rival, US aircraft giant Boeing, have been in dispute over subsidies for production and development.
Airbus had 731 net aircraft orders last year, compared to 668 for Boeing.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that “no deal was better than a bad deal” as the UK leaves the EU and negotiates its future relationship.
That would mean WTO rules would apply.
“DOES THE UK REALLY CARE ABOUT AIRBUS?”
Treasury committee member, Conservative MP Steve Baker, who is also a chartered aerospace engineer, said it would be possible to develop a full aircraft industry in the UK.
Williams suggested that would not be a successful model.
The UK government has indicated it may try to make special arrangements for key sectors such as aerospace.
If free movement of labour could not be agreed, Williams said the company's concern would be "does the UK not really care about Airbus in the future?"