LONDON (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA) could move production of new aircraft models out of Britain if the European plane-maker’s “non-negotiable” demands over the free movement of people and trade tariffs are not delivered in upcoming Brexit talks, the Sunday Times reported.
Britain is due to begin negotiations with the rest of the European Union about the terms of its departure in nine days time, despite Prime Minister Theresa May being weakened by losing her majority in Thursday’s election.
Fabrice Bregier, chief operating officer of Airbus, said a deal must allow its staff from all over the world to enter Britain easily, ensure that parts are exempt from trade tariffs and ensure certain regulatory standards are maintained.
Otherwise, he said, Britain would risk losing Airbus production in the future. “For new productions, it’s very easy to have a new plant somewhere in the world. We would have plenty of offers to do that,” Bregier said, according to the newspaper.
“We want to stay in the UK — provided the conditions to work in an integrated organization are met.”
May might be forced to reassess her Brexit priorities after being weakened by the election. She has previously said she wants Britain to withdraw from Europe’s custom union as well as its single market. She has also said no deal would be better than a bad deal, implying she could accept tariffs on imports and exports.
Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said on Thursday that a “hard Brexit” where trade tariffs between the UK and European Union were imposed could potentially impact the competitiveness of the firm’s activities in Britain.
Airbus employs over 10,000 people across two plants in Britain, according to the company’s website.
Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Bill Rigby