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Rolls-Royce reports record loss as travel slumps

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce, which makes jet engines, has reported record losses after the coronavirus pandemic caused demand for air travel to slump.

The firm announced a pre-tax loss of £5.4bn for the first half of this year.

Chief executive Warren East told the BBC he did not expect demand to recover to late-2019 levels for five years.

On Wednesday, it confirmed the closure of factories in Nottinghamshire and Lancashire, as part of plans to cut 3,000 jobs across the UK.

The move is part of a previously announced cost-cutting exercise that will see the company slash its global workforce by a fifth, following the drastic fall in air travel because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Rolls-Royce is in the middle of its biggest restructuring in its history, which will reduce the number of sites it has worldwide from 11 to six.

Wide-body engine assembly and testing, which is currently carried out at three global sites, will be consolidated at its main site in Derby.

Rolls-Royce employs 50,000 people around the world, about half of them in the UK.

‘Ongoing uncertainty’
Mr East told the BBC’s Today programme that so far this year, 4,500 people worldwide had left the company.

He said Rolls-Royce had originally expected to deliver up to 500 jet engines this year, but would now manage only half that.

Rolls-Royce said it intended to sell its Spanish unit ITP Aero and other assets to raise at least £2bn.