The entrepreneur Didier Cauquil walks, concerned, the aisles of his factory where only six machines out of 32 operate: the crisis in the aeronautical sector has brought the company to its knees, which manufactures parts near Toulouse, especially for Airbus.
“Hundreds of subcontracting companies are in great difficulty, it’s very hard for us … Orders canceled, we end up with a stock of parts on the shelves, I had never seen that. And I am not the worst off, “says the CEO of Cauquil SA, founded in 1947 by his grandfather who then manufactured motorcycle engines.
Only 25% of the 75 employees work, the others are part-time unemployed, because the company which is now part of the French group BT2I, has lost 70% of its workload.
The government, which has already put in place a support plan for the automotive industry, must unveil next week a stimulus plan for the aeronautical industry, affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
“The drop in production rates at Airbus is 35 to 40%, that means partial activity for many employees. Who says drop in production rate, says drop in the supply of products by subcontractors”, explains the deputy En Marche de Haute-Garonne Mickaël Nogal, charged by the government to consult the actors of the sector.
– “No visibility” –
But the 54-year-old entrepreneur does not expect much from the executive stimulus package.
“Me, I need guarantees of volume of purchases from my customers. I have no visibility, we are completely in the dark.”
Cauquil, labeled “Industry of the future”, manufactures for example fuel tank hatches for Airbus 737 in titanium, emergency exit doors for Bombardier, door hooks for Boeing 737.
An aisle of the spare parts factory, the Cauquil SAS company, almost stopped, consequence of the crisis in the aeronautical sector, on June 5, 2020 in Mondouzil (south) (AFP / Lionel BONAVENTURE)
For Amine Seddik, employee since 2005, Cauquil “will not be able to keep everyone”. “Almost all the machines are stopped, the orders canceled. If I lose my job, it will be difficult to find them, the whole sector will be poached, I have a family, two children”, worries this 39-year-old storekeeper.
“We are looking for solutions to avoid it, but we know that we will have to lay off. In September, there will be an explosion of social plans in the sector, predicts the CEO. I hope we can rehire them, as soon as activity resumes. “
In 2020, the boss of Cauquil expected a good year and a turnover of 14 million euros (against 12.3 in 2019), but it will ultimately be around 7 million.
– “Progressive recovery” –
He especially fears that the principals will force the SMEs to lower their prices, below the break-even point.
The weight of subcontractors is considerable in aeronautics. A device of the European aircraft manufacturer, underlines the president of the CCI Occitanie Alain Di Crescenzo, it is 20% manufactured by Airbus and 80% by the subcontractors.
In Occitania, Airbus orders 5 billion euros from its subcontractors each year.
Large subcontractors like Safran, Derichebourg, Daher are planning hundreds of job cuts, according to the unions.
“It’s a violent crisis. And activity will only resume gradually,” warns Carole Delga, president of the Occitania region, where 200,000 jobs depend on aeronautics, including 80,000 direct.
The aeronautical sector, with uninterrupted growth, created 3,000 jobs each year in the Toulouse region. With public aid, she underlines, “there must be a counterpart to go in this dynamic of the” green plane “, with a weaker environmental impact”.
The State intends “to favor the regrouping of SMEs in the sector among themselves, to be stronger”, indicates the deputy Nogal, “to ensure the protection of our companies against foreign predation, because SMEs are approached by investment funds Chinese, American. The objective is to conserve these nuggets and their technological know-how. “
“I am optimistic,” he said, “there will be a difficult period to pass, it may take two years before the sector resumes pre-crisis activity.”