Airbus CEO Tom Enders has called on British Parliamentarians to quickly agree on an orderly exit from the European Union (EU).

In a swansong speech in London on Jan. 9 as he prepares to hand over the reins to his replacement, Guillaume Faury, Enders warned that with less than three months to go before Brexit, the future shape of Britain’s relationship with the EU remained “extremely unclear,” and called upon politicians “from all sides to come together and pass a pragmatic agreement that allows an orderly Brexit.”

“My plea to decisionmakers in London: Whether you think that leaving the EU is good for the UK or not, by all means: stop filibustering around this issue, allow for an orderly, agreed Brexit and find an agreement with Brussels,” he said.

His words come as British lawmakers continue to debate the Withdrawal Agreement, which despite being endorsed by both the EU and the British government, still needs approval from Parliament before it can progress. MPs are scheduled to vote on the agreement Jan. 15, but appear likely to reject it, leading to concerns that the UK could crash out of the EU on March 29 without an agreement, a situation widely feared by the aerospace industry.

“We don’t see any specific benefits in the current deal. It’s just a lot less bad than a no-deal,” Enders said.

Enders has been one of the most vocal aerospace industry critics of Brexit. Airbus employs 15,000 people in the UK in an operation that Enders said had been optimized for competitiveness, but Brexit was threatening that, “If our competitiveness is undermined, then our future is compromised,” he warned.

He confirmed that the company had begun preparing for a no-deal Brexit by stockpiling parts, with company officials saying that a month’s worth of components was being made ready to reduce the potential impact of disruption as a result of increased border checks.

“We spent already many millions … I would say at this point double-digit millions for contingency planning and preparations, and this would probably be only a small fraction of what an unprepared, disorderly Brexit could cost us,” Enders said.

Enders’ views were echoed earlier in the week by the British aerospace, defense, security and space trade association, ADS, which also called on lawmakers to approve the Withdrawal Agreement.

“With very little time now remaining before the UK leaves the EU, continued uncertainty is damaging to business investment and is forcing companies to implement costly contingency plans,” ADS chief executive Paul Everitt said.

“Further delay increases the risk of a no deal Brexit … this would be the worst possible outcome and would bring significant disruption to industry in the UK and Europe, damaging jobs and growth,” he added.

Despite the Brexit warning, Enders was upbeat after the company confirmed it had delivered 800 aircraft during 2018, six aircraft short of its competitor Boeing.

Enders said December had been “frantic” with 100 aircraft delivered during the month, while company officials told ATW  that 15 had their paperwork concluded on Dec. 31, 2018.

Tony Osborne tony.osborne@aviationweek.com