‘About 30’ employees leave Airbus in Portsmouth amid Brexit row over Galileo satellite

The Galileo satellite, which has its control hub at Airbus' Portsmouth HQ. Picture: Airbus
The Galileo satellite, which has its control hub at Airbus' Portsmouth HQ. Picture: Airbus

DOZENS of highly-skilled employees working on the European sat-nav system Galileo have left their jobs at Airbus in Portsmouth.

A spokesman for Airbus Defence and Space said today about 30 temporary employees have ‘moved on’ from the firm as work on Galileo gets set to move to the EU after Brexit. 

UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock, Niclolas Chamussy of Airbus, minister for universities and science Sam Gyimah and Rodolphe Belmer of Eutelsat at the signing of the deal

UK Space Agency CEO Graham Turnock, Niclolas Chamussy of Airbus, minister for universities and science Sam Gyimah and Rodolphe Belmer of Eutelsat at the signing of the deal

Earlier this year, bids for the project’s latest round of contracts specified work must be led by a firm based inside the European Union from March, 2019 – which is when Britain is scheduled to leave it. 

That put as many as 100 permanent and temporary jobs at Airbus at Anchorage Park in Hilsea at risk, despite the firm having worked on a ground control system for the satellite in the city since 2003.

According to Airbus spokesman Jeremy Close the firm looks to reduce its roster of temporary employees to ‘preserve permanent jobs’ when a ‘reduction' like this must be made. 

Mr Close, Airbus’ director of UK communication, said: ‘About 30 temporary workers have moved on and we are looking to see how we can allocate the other people from Galileo.’

An artist's impression of the two Hotbird satellites workers will help build as part of the deal

An artist's impression of the two Hotbird satellites workers will help build as part of the deal

Both temporary and permanent Airbus employees in Portsmouth make up the remaining 70 jobs previously reported to be at risk as a result of Galileo’s move to the EU.

News of the departures follows an announcement today that Portsmouth workers will soon play a vital role in building satellites for European firm Eutelsat in a new £35m-a-year deal.

Business secretary Greg Clark has called the agreement a ‘significant vote of confidence for the UK’s world leading space industry’. 

It comes months after fears emerged Airbus could leave the UK in the event of a so-called ‘no deal’ Brexit. 

In its latest commentary on what Brexit could mean for its UK operations – including its 1,400 jobs in Portsmouth – an Airbus spokesperson said: ‘We urge all sides – the EU, the UK and our other home nations – to work programmatically towards a deal that leaves Airbus’s competitiveness un-impinged.

‘However, we reiterate if the UK exits EU next year without a deal – therefore leaving both the single market and customs union immediately and without any agreed transition – this could lead to severe disruption and interruption of our production.

‘Without a deal, Airbus believes that the impacts on our UK operations could be significant.’ 

They added: ‘Airbus has a long-standing Brexit taskforce that has assessed the potential impacts of no deal on our business and Airbus is now undertaking a number of risk mitigations, including working with suppliers to create buffer stocks, managing legal implications and ensuring our customs processes are ready for no deal.’