Airbus transported 2 million face masks from Tianjin, China to Toulouse on a A330-800 test flight this weekend, as it prepared to resume production and assembly work at its factories in France and Spain.
The test aircraft took off from Toulouse on Saturday, March 21 and returned with the cargo the next day. Most of the masks will be donated to the Spanish and French authorities. Additional flights are planned to take place in the coming days.
Airbus is partially resuming production and assembly work in France and Spain after conducting health and safety checks and implementing more stringent hygiene measures at its sites to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said, “Health and safety is our number one priority at Airbus so the work stations at our sites in France and Spain will only re-open if they meet the required standards.
“I’d like to salute the strong commitment from our employees to ensure business continuity in close cooperation with our social partners and other stakeholders. At the same time we are doing all we can to support those on the frontline to fight the coronavirus and limit its spread.”
However, French trade union CGT, which represents workers at French Airbus sites, criticized the reopening saying it placed workers, the surrounding population and the supply chain at more risk of contracting coronavirus.
Airbus has also announced a number of financial measures to help it survive the coronavirus pandemic. These included withdrawing its 2020 guidance for shareholders on the company’s performance, withdrawing its 2019 dividend proposal of €1.80 per share with an overall cash value of approximately €1.4 billion and securing a €15 billion credit facility.
Combined with existing cash reserves, the company has around €30 billion to help it through the crisis. “I am convinced that Airbus and the broader aerospace sector will overcome this critical period,” said Faury.
Meanwhile Boeing announced several decisions to support the company while it waited for the US Government to announce aid measures for the aerospace industry. These include CEO Dave Calhoun and Board Chairman Larry Kellner forgoing all pay until the end of the year, suspending its share dividend and extending a pause on any share repurchasing
“We are drawing on all of our resources to sustain operations, support the workforce and customers, and maintain supply chain continuity through the COVID-19 crisis and for the long term,” Boeing said in a statement.