The boss of Airbus has reportedly told staff the firm is “bleeding cash” due to the collapse in demand for air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief executive Guillaume Faury issued the warning in a letter to the aerospace giant’s employees late on Friday.
According to various reports, he wrote: “We’re bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed, which may threaten the very existence of our company.”
He added that it must “act urgently” to survive.
A spokesman for Airbus said the firm does not comment on internal communications.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to airlines grounding the majority of their fleet.
Earlier this month, Airbus announced a plan to cut its aircraft production rates by around a third.
EasyJet has reached an agreement with the manufacturer to defer the delivery of 24 new aircraft.
Airbus employs 13,500 people in the UK, including in Broughton, North Wales, and Filton, Bristol, where wings for commercial aircraft are designed, tested and built.
Rhys McCarthy, from the Unite trade union, said the announcement “must serve as a wake-up call” to governments across Europe about state aid.
“Government support will not just protect the workers directly employed in the aerospace industry but also the 100,000 plus workers in the UK who are employed in the industry’s supply chain,” he said.
“A do-nothing approach will not only threaten tens of thousands of jobs, but make an economic recovery that more difficult and will result in UK forfeiting its leading role in aerospace.”
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, described Airbus as a “flagship” company in the north of the country but said solutions “go far beyond Wales”.
“The difficulties facing the airline industry, including airline manufacturers, go far beyond Wales,” Mr Drakeford told a Welsh Government briefing.
“We will play our part, but we need a solution that addresses the global nature of the problem.”
The company is due to issue its financial results for the first quarter of the year on Wednesday.