PROSPECTS for the recovery of the aviation market could be good if people start flying again, the UK boss of Airbus has said.

In June, the aerospace giant announced plans to cut 1,435 jobs at its site in Broughton and 295 at Filton, Bristol, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Katherine Bennett, senior vice president of Airbus, met with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford at a research facility next to the Broughton factory today (Thursday, August 6) as they called for an extension to the UK Government's furlough scheme.

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Keir Starmer at Airbus. Image: PA

She told the PA news agency the business was having "constructive discussions" with governments about what support could be given but it was vital people started using air travel again.

Ms Bennett said: "The IATA, the global aviation industry experts, say that flights are down by 70 per cent so we need to get people flying again, we're a long-term industry.

"But the prospects are good if the market restores, which we guess will be in a few years' time. We need to get more aerospace people working in research centres like this."

She said there had been 40 per cent reductions in production at Airbus but praised the way employees and trade union representatives had worked with the business.

Ms Bennett said: "A few months back, in January, we were busy trying to re-skill people and get people doing more research and technology and here we are today having to cut back on production in terms of 40 per cent reductions.

"Our employees understand that, they're clever people, they know what the industry's like and we just need to put a good foot forward and be confident for the future."

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Sir Keir Starmer in the meeting with AM Mark Drakeford, Airbus' Jerome Blandin and Katherine Bennett. Image Airbus UK

Sir Keir has said the country faces an unemployment crisis "on a scale not seen for generations".

Speaking while at the AMRC research facility, he said: "Here in North Wales, jobs and businesses are at risk, good jobs in places like Airbus, and everybody must do everything they can to support those jobs."

Flintshire has proved to be a political battleground where Labour lost out to the Tories at the general election.

Before his visit to the county, he warned the UK faces an unemployment crisis "on a scale not seen for generations" as he stepped up his campaign for a targeted extension of the furlough scheme.

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Keir Starmer at Airbus. Image: PA

Sir Keir said the Labour-led Welsh Government had put in place a £1.7 billion package of support for struggling businesses but decisions on furlough were a matter for Mr Sunak and Boris Johnson.

As part of his effort to put pressure on Chancellor Rishi Sunak, he said: "Labour is fighting for jobs across the country. The UK Government's blanket withdrawal of the furlough scheme is a historic mistake which threatens Welsh jobs.

"The devastating job losses announced at Airbus show how high the stakes are.

"We face a jobs crisis on a scale not seen for generations. But it is not too late for the Government to act.

"The Welsh Government has done a huge amount to support struggling businesses, but the action needed on the furlough scheme can only come from Westminster."

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Sir Keir Starmer talks to Airbus' Gareth Davies and Siemens Anil Thomas. Image: Airbus UK

Sir Keir also heard about the Ventilation Challenge project, which provided lifesaving equipment to the NHS.

Jerome Blandin, Head of Broughton Plant, said: "It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss the incredible achievement of the Ventilator Challenge programme with Sir Keir Starmer, Annaliese Dodds, Mark Drakeford and our local politicians, as well as being able to have an open discussion about the challenging times we find ourselves in due to the pandemic."