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Airbus & Volkswagen stop production as Covid-19 brings Europe to screeching halt

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March 17, 2020

European aviation giant Airbus has decided to pause production and assembly activities at its French and Spanish facilities for the next four days to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“This will allow sufficient time to implement stringent health and safety conditions in terms of hygiene, cleaning and self-distancing, while improving the efficiency of operations under the new working conditions,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it will allow its staff to work remotely wherever possible.

Airbus’ announcement came shortly after France and Spain imposed drastic measures to battle the outbreak. On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a 15-day lockdown for the entire country.

The airline industry is also in crisis because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Italian government announced on Tuesday it plans to re-nationalise the bankrupt Alitalia airline under an emergency economic rescue plan.

The pandemic has also forced German auto giant Volkswagen to suspend operations at most of its European plants, with facilities in Spain, Portugal, Slovakia, and Italy set to close before the end of the week.

“Most of the other German and European plants will begin preparing to suspend production, probably for two to three weeks,” CEO Herbert Diess announced on Tuesday.

Earlier, Volkswagen’s Spanish unit SEAT announced that it will halt all car production. The measure comes into force on Tuesday. The automaker reportedly presented a temporary layoff plan for nearly all 15,000 workers, while saying not all employees would be affected. According to Reuters, the employees would keep 80 percent of their salary.

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Airbus shares dropped more than four percent and Volkswagen stocks were swinging between a half percent down and a half up as trading started in Europe on Tuesday.

On Monday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot maker PSA Group said they are halting almost all car production across Europe as EU member states started to introduce nationwide lockdowns in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier, Ford Motor Company had to shut down its factory in Valencia, Spain, where the Mondeo and Galaxy models are made. The closure came after three cases of coronavirus infection were confirmed within a 24-hour period. It is one of Ford’s largest plants outside the US, producing over 400,000 vehicles a year.

This article was posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 6:48 am

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