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Rolls-Royce announces two-week shutdown of civil aerospace operations

written by Hannah Dowling | February 8, 2021

Rolls Royce Trent XWB-84 (Wikimedia)

British aircraft engine-maker Rolls-Royce said on Sunday it plans to temporarily shut down the operations of its civil aerospace unit in order to preserve cash, as it continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company has said it is in consultation with unions regarding the potential two-week shutdown over the European summer.

The civil aerospace division, which manufactures jet engine parts for aircraft, employs over 19,000 staff around the world, although a majority of these are based in the UK.

Rolls-Royce has reportedly also entered talks with British labour unions over a separate push to produce a permanent 10 per cent increase in productivity and efficiency in its UK-based civil aerospace operations.

Staff at the company were warned of a potential shutdown of operations back in October.

No firm dates for the shutdown period have been released as of yet.

Rolls confirmed that the temporary shutdown will be the first time since the company went public in the 1980s that the firm has been forced to take such drastic cost-cutting measures.


Though, the company did point to the fact that employees routinely pause operations over the Christmas holiday period in the UK, and that operations were similarly paused for one week spring of last year as the company introduced new measures to comply with COVID-19 guidance.

The company acknowledged that the shut down would likely be “disappointing to our colleagues”, but said it intended to reduce the impact on their pay by spreading reductions across the year.

Rolls-Royce has been forced to curb its cash burn as subdued air travel demand continues to wreak havoc on the aviation industry.

The company announced in 2020 that it would cut over 17 per cent of its 52,000-strong workforce over the next two years, in order to save £1.3 billion annually by the end of 2022.

About 8,000 of the 9,000 announced job cuts would be from the civil aerospace unit.

To date, 7,000 cuts have already been made.

It follows the news that Rolls-Royce lowered its forecasts for how much its aircraft engines will fly in 2021, in light of fresh COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Rolls’ main revenue stream from airlines is heavily dependent on flying hours, as carriers will pay depending on how often the engines are used.

Currently, the manufacturer’s 2021 forecast of flying hours on its engines will be about 55 per cent of 2019 and pre-pandemic levels, down from a base forecast provided back in October of 70 per cent.

The downgrade in anticipated flying hours is expected to cost the company an additional US$2.7 billion in cash outflow.


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