Airbus has had a strong growing bilateral relationship with Portugal for more than 50 years. As a trusted partner of the Portuguese aerospace industry, Airbus supports the airline operators with the most modern commercial airplanes and aviation support services and the government with the top-notch defence capabilities and advanced space technologies.
Airbus sourcing from Portugal stands at over €65 million annually from a network of more than 35 suppliers. The country is a key contributor to all Airbus programs, from commercial aircraft assemblies to helicopter electric switchboards, from machining to composite assembly. Airbus programmes currently support nearly 1,000 jobs in the country and more than 4,000 people work with its supply chain partners.
Portugal, with its competitive talent pool, notable quality, capability and cost advantages, has become an obvious partner for Airbus.
When Airbus identified the need to create a new centralised , specialised Global Business Service Centre, Lisbon in Portugal came out as the clear "hotspot" for Europe fulfilling all the requirements: available experts/talents, demonstrated local GBS industry footprint, accessible, attractive, stable, GDPR compatible and a favorable labour environment.
Airbus Global Business Services (Airbus GBS) operations started in July 2021. Headquartered in Lisbon, Airbus Portugal S.A., a fully owned subsidiary of Airbus SAS, already has more than 120 experts at work on managing administrative, transactional, reporting and IT services, mainly in support of Airbus' Finance, HR, Procurement, IM, Engineering, Communication, Customer Services, Legal and Compliance.
As a centre of excellence under the full control of Airbus in Europe, Airbus GBS ensures control and security of our critical data and processes. By mutualising services in a single organisation cross-divisions, Airbus GBS will align company standards worldwide, connect processes end-to-end and coordinate tools in order to improve the efficiency of support services. It will deliver sustainable quality of service and increase the internal customers’ experience through operational excellence and long-term cost efficiency.
Established on January 1st 2022, as a wholly owned Airbus subsidiary, Airbus Atlantic is a new global player, number 2 in the aerostructures field with 13,000 employees in 5 countries and 3 continents. Airbus Atlantic has a plant in Santo Tirso, today still referred to as STELIA Portugal, near Porto. It is specialized in fuselage metallic sub-assembly activities for the Airbus A350 and the A320 Family, with already more than 80 employees and is continuously growing.
Research and development projects
Airbus works hand in hand with the Portuguese companies on multiple European Research and Development projects.
PASSARO (caPAbilities for innovative Structural and functional teSting of AeROstructures) is a EU Clean Sky 2 project started in July 2016. It comprises eleven partners from Portugal and Spain working in close collaboration with Airbus Defence and Space pursuing common technology objectives, such as the promotion of the innovation of the Aircraft Industry at European level.
The research and technology project FUSE-IT, led by Airbus CyberSecurity, is a European cluster for software innovation and is part of the EUREKA programme, an intergovernmental network for Research & Development & Innovation (R&D&I) cooperation, involving Portugal and other countries globally. Airbus CyberSecurity and its partners have developed the so-called Smart Secured Building System that links four typically independent building management modules such as energy, facilities, ICT and security. The technology has been successfully tested in the Centro Hospital São João (CHSJ), Portugal, one of the FUSE-IT partners.
The EU Horizon 2020 project SATIE (Security of Air Transport Infrastructures of Europe) kicked-off in May 2019, in Porto, at ISEP-GECAD premises – the largest unit of the School of Engineering of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, which takes an important part in the project. The project aims at improving cyber-physical attack resilience of European airports paving the way to a new generation of Security Operation Centre that will be included in a comprehensive airport security policy. Airbus CyberSecurity, Portugal and 9 other European nations are working on the project today.
Airbus count three major Portuguese customers and operators: Tap Air Portugal, Hi Fly and SATA Azores Airlines.
TAP Air Portugal was one of the very first customers for Airbus when the airline took delivery of their first A310 airplane in 1988.
Today, Airbus is Portugal’s leading provider of commercial aircraft with a total in-service fleet of some 100 aircraft at end 2021. Today, TAP operates an all-Airbus fleet of some 80 aircraft and the airline still has an amount of 30 new aircraft models to be delivered in the coming years. With a comprehensive portfolio of the A319, A320, A321, A330 and A340 models, TAP benefits from a guaranteed product commonality of Airbus aircraft family.
In the frame of its fleet renewal and modernization program, TAP became the launch operator of the new generation widebody A330neo, renowned for its unbeatable operating economics, increased range and new Airspace comfortable cabin for passengers. In November 2018, A330neo entered TAP’s operational service, significantly expanding its network of long-haul routes. TAP was also one of the first airlines to operate the A321LR on transatlantic routes, enhancing its capabilities on the mid-market, saving 25-30% fuel compared to previous generation aircraft.
Airbus and Hi Fly, the leading wide-body aircraft wet lease specialist, have been closely working together since 2006. Operated by two affiliated airlines in Portugal and Malta, Hi Fly has an all-Airbus aircraft portfolio comprising the A320, A330, A340 families.
Azores Airlines, the SATA Group airline operating in the Autonomous Region of the Azores, is an Airbus customer comprising an Airbus fleet of A330, A320, A321neo families, flying international routes.
Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space has maintained a robust relationship with Portugal for decades.
In 2006, Portugal acquired its first out of 12 C295 tactical airlifters for the Portuguese military missions and surveillance assistance. The deal also included a 30-year MRO contract (Fully Integrated Services Support). Today, Airbus Defence and Space continue to provide much needed air mission support platforms to help Portugal meet its mission objectives.
Airbus, in parallel, continues to support the growth of the Portuguese industry partners and its AED (Aeronautics, Space and Defence) cluster. Airbus in recent years has become a trusted partner to the Portuguese Aerospace industry, and as Airbus grows, so does Portugal’s position and opportunity with the group overall.
Other Airbus products in service with the Portuguese Navy and Armed Forces include Coastal Vessel Tracking Management System (CVTS) designed to effectively manage vessel traffic in ports, harbours and coastal areas, TerraSAR-X Imagery through European Maritime Safety Agency, Satcom services and terminals through the EU Satcom contract, Periscope, Thermal Cameras and Earth Observation.
Airbus Helicopters traces its roots back to 1963 when the first Alouette III made its maiden flight in the colors of the Portuguese Air Force.
Today, Airbus Helicopters account for 75% of the current civil and parapublic fleet in service. There are around 35 single engine H125s, the most popular helicopter model, playing a key role in the country’ firefighting efforts during the summer season. The Portuguese Air Force, as well as private operators such as Heliportugal, Helibravo, HTa and Babcock, use H125s to fight fires in Portugal thanks to its unique lifting capacity of 800 liters of waters, its endurance and maneuvrability.
Airbus Helicopters has had a long history of cooperation with the Portuguese Armed Forces and national industries and it stands ready to support their fleet modernization needs by proposing a new range of multi-mission light and medium helicopters.
Airbus continues to increase its footprint as supply chain, sourcing, engineering and hiring activities continue to grow. Over the last 3 years, Airbus has been expanding its cooperation with Portugal, identifying new areas of work to build on. Thanks to this fruitful and collaborative work, Portugal is now building a real cluster of Tier 1 & 2 Aerospace companies with a reputation for highly educated and reliable work force.
Currently, out of 70 Portuguese aerospace companies, over half provide products and services for Airbus production and support, research and development, and a broad range of services that support Airbus operations. Supporting this engagement, Airbus offers a comprehensive training on “how to become an Airbus supplier”, as part of the Airbus action plan for Portugal. Airbus procurement in Portugal is ramping up with an expansion in the range of goods and services sourced from the country.
Airbus’ trusted suppliers, Mecachrome and Lauak Group, have both recently invested in new factories locally, which combined with the indigeneous supply chain, such as OGMA, Caetano and Critical Software, led to the emerge of Portugal as a new European Aerospace Industrial hub. To further support the emergence of this new aerospace industry hub, Airbus and its affiliate Air Business Academy are working to tighten their partnership with the industrial cluster AED.
Portuguese industry is moving closer to international aerospace projects, serving the country’s national interests with high-value jobs creation and reinforcing the common European Defence industrial base. Airbus and its affiliates are ready to further evaluate developing their presence in Portugal through industrial participation, research and technology, and community engagement.
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