Rolls-Royce signals potential job cuts as 4,000 workers furloughed

Aerospace giant Rolls-Royce has said it will reveal the impact of coronavirus on the size of its workforce later this month, signalling that job cuts could be on the cards.

The company said it is working with trade union and employee representatives and has already placed 4,000 UK staff on furlough.

It said flying hours for its engines dived by 90% in April as airlines around the world temporarily grounded large proportions of their fleets.

Rolls-Royce said it expects the severity of the pandemic to “lead to a smaller commercial aerospace market which may take several years to recover”.

There has been an “unprecedented reduction” in air traffic since the virus spread, it said.

Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East
Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East

The company said it is actively pursuing changes in its business to adapt to the situation, with changes particularly in its civil aerospace division.

Rolls-Royce said its power systems division has also experienced weaker trading since the first quarter due to extended shutdowns in local markets and ongoing travel bans.

Warren East, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said: “We are working hard to mitigate the near-term disruption caused by Covid-19 and are making stronger than expected progress on our mitigating actions, giving us confidence that we can now deliver up to £1 billion of savings this year.

“However, we must also take the difficult but necessary decisions to ensure the group emerges from this period with the appropriate cost base for what will be a smaller commercial aerospace market which may take several years to recover.

“I am proud of the dedication and commitment of my colleagues and thankful for the continuing support of our shareholders and other stakeholders during this challenging time.”