Rolls-Royce to cut 9,000 jobs to prepare for years of disruption

Rolls-Royce is to cut nearly a fifth of its workforce as it prepares for disruption to the aviation industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic to last for several years.

The aero engine maker said it would cut at least 9,000 of its 52,000 jobs, in what would be its biggest single reduction in headcount in 30 years.

The significant cuts come as Rolls-Royce said it expects demand for its aerospace engines and services to take several years to return to levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

The Financial Times reported earlier this month that senior executives had begun work on a restructuring plan that would include thousands of job losses as the airline industry struggles through a collapse in global air travel. 

The changes will primarily affect the group’s civil aerospace business, which has been hit by plunging demand from aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing.

Warren East, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said the majority of the group’s civil aerospace jobs are in the UK, which is likely to be heavily hit by the cuts.

“We haven’t completely concluded on exactly where the job losses will be because we have to consult with our unions,” Mr East told the BBC.

“But it is fair to say that of our civil aerospace business, approximately two-thirds of the total employees are in the UK at the moment, and that is probably a good first proxy,” he said. 

Rolls-Royce, which will also cut capital spending, expects the changes to save £1.3bn per year, of which the job losses will contribute £700m. The group expects to book costs of around £800m between this year and 2020 as it makes the changes.

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