ArianeGroup, the European conglomerate jointly owned by Airbus and Safran that is in charge of producing Europe’s main launch vehicles, has announced that it will reduce its workforce (currently numbered at 9,000) by 2,300 by 2022. The reason given by the company is that the design and development phase of the new Ariane 6 rocket system is nearly complete.
The process is thought to have been brought forward by a downturn in launch orders following the partial collapse of the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellite market, as satellite communications companies move towards developing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations. While these will need launches, there will be a delay of perhaps two years before these begin in earnest. Nevertheless, ArianeGroup hopes to avoid any forced lay-offs by using a combination of short-term contract expiries and retirements.