MOBILE, Ala. (Reuters) - The chief executive of European planemaker Airbus said on Wednesday British ministers had expressed a “certain degree of optimism” that Britain would not leave the European Union without a transition deal.
Airbus was among companies represented on a conference call between business leaders and British ministers late on Tuesday after the government lost a vote in parliament on Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for an exit deal.
Asked in the United States whether businesses had received assurances that Britain would not leave the EU without a deal, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said, “I would not say assurances, but I would say ministers have expressed a certain degree of optimism that a no-deal Brexit would not happen.”
Enders campaigned against Britain leaving the European Union ahead of a 2016 referendum and last week urged politicians to speed up efforts to avoid a disorderly exit.
“Anything that avoids a hard Brexit is good news for us in industry and I think we also have clear signs that Brussels would be willing to consider that, if there was a clear path forward to find a solution,” he told a news conference.
Planemaking chief Guillaume Faury, who succeeds Enders as head of Europe’s largest aerospace company in April, said Airbus had stockpiled a “couple of weeks” of extra parts to cope with any border disruption after Britain leaves the EU on March 29.
But he warned that not all sub-suppliers may have robust plans.
“We would be in uncharted territory with a level of risk that would be hard to quantify,” he told reporters.
Both executives were speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to expand Airbus’s U.S. operations with an assembly line for its recently acquired A220 jet, a Canadian-developed airliner whose wings are made at a factory in Northern Ireland.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Toby Chopra and Susan Thomas