Airbus test aircraft on COVID-19 mercy flights

March 23, 2020

Airbus is using test aircraft to ferry medical and other vital supplies to Europe as it moves to partially resume production work in France and Spain.

A test Airbus A380-800 superjumbo this weekend transported two million masks from Tianjin, China, to help the fight against COVID-19 and said additional flights are planned in the coming days.

The majority of the masks will be donated to Spanish and French authorities as part of wider donations to hospitals and public services around Europe.

READ: Cathay passenger capacity shrivels to 4 percent.

The European manufacturer is also bringing its French and Spanish production back online after suspending it to revamp hygiene, cleaning and social distancing requirements in its health regime.

It was the most serious disruption to Europen production since a 1989 strike at then partner BAE systems. The manufacturer also closed its final assembly line in Tianjin as a result of the coronavirus outbreak but has since re-opened it and says it is “working efficiently”.

Airbus said it had carried out extensive work with its partners to ensure the health and safety of employees and work stations would only re-open if they complied with the strict new regime.

The manufacturer is also encouraging employees globally to work from home where possible.

“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,” said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury.

“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.

“We try to live up to our values, humbled by the complexity of the situation, and contribute as much as we can to society in these very difficult times.”

Airbus later announced it had opened a new €15 billion credit facility, withdrawn its 2019 dividend and stopped topping up pension funding to bolster liquidity.

It also withdrew its 2020 earnings guidance.