Optimism as aerospace firm EADS picks Portsmouth as major site

A satellite at Astrium being prepared for transportation
A satellite at Astrium being prepared for transportation
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Space firm Astrium’s Hilsea site has been picked as one of three to be kept under a major shake-up of its operations.

Parent company EADS has announced it will cut 5,800 jobs across Europe as part of a major restructuring of its organisation.

Part of the announcement included a change to its presence in the UK.

EADS has eight major sites in the UK, and plans to bring those down to just three as part of a ‘substantial consolidation’.

Around 950 people are employed at its Portsmouth site, in Hilsea, which builds satellites.

That site has been chosen as one of the three which will remain.

City leaders have now called on the firm to seize the opportunity to expand its workforce in the city.

Hilsea councillor and leader of Portsmouth City Council’s Conservative group Donna Jones said: ‘Although it’s disappointing to hear of job losses around the UK, I welcome the news that Portsmouth is a main site.

‘This is fantastic as we have been working hard with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to secure the city as a centre of excellence for the aerospace industry. This is a chance for Portsmouth to puts its mark on that industry.’

The other two EADS sites being kept under the shake-up are Newport and Stevenage.

EADS says these sites have been chose to ‘maintain proximity’ to the firm’s key customers.

Operations at smaller sites will be relocated to one of the three major areas.

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the leader of the city council, said: ‘It is potentially very good news for Portsmouth.

‘I don’t think many people in the city actually realise that we build satellites here in Portsmouth and these people are highly-skilled, highly-paid engineers.

‘They employ as many people as are involved in shipbuilding in the city and they have increased their numbers recently so hopefully this is an opportunity for that to grow even further.’

The changes come as part of a major plan by EADS to consolidate its defence and space businesses and rebrand the firm as Airbus 
Group.