ROLLS-Royce has announced today it plans to stop making aero-engine structures at Barnoldswick and shift production to Spain - with the potential loss of 140 jobs.

In a statement, the company says while it understands it will be 'hugely upsetting' for its Barnoldswick workforce, which currently stands at around 520, it cannot afford to retain every factory supported by a demand that has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rolls-Royce adds it does not intend to close its sites at Bankfield and Ghyll Brow, and that Barnoldswick will be the home of a 'product development and technical support centre for wide chord fan blades and continue to manufacture blades for a range of Defence and Civil Aerospace applications.'

It is also however, 'exploring options' to consolidate the remaining work at Ghyll Brow, on the edge of the town, into Bankfield.

A spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said: “The Covid-19 global pandemic has severely impacted the whole commercial aviation industry.

"Due to the significant reduction in global demand from airlines for our products and services, which is forecast to last several years, we must reduce our manufacturing capacity and cost base in order to protect our remaining workforce.

“The measures we have taken so far, while significant, are not enough to off-set the continued reduction in workload across our facilities and as a result, today we are proposing to consolidate the manufacture of aero-engine structures into ITP Aero.

"ITP Aero, currently undergoing its own restructuring, offers a more cost competitive option than our existing structures facility in Barnoldswick.

"We are commencing consultation on a proposal to close the structures facility on the site."

The spokesperson added: “While this will be hugely upsetting news for our colleagues in Barnoldswick, this does not mean we are closing our Barnoldswick site.

"Following our proposal in August to relocate part of our fan blade manufacturing, Barnoldswick will be the home of a product development and technical support centre for wide chord fan blades and continue to manufacture blades for a range of Defence and Civil Aerospace applications."

Chris Cholerton, president of Civil Aerospace, added: “I understand that the announcement will be hugely upsetting for our colleagues in Barnoldswick.

"This is a very difficult proposal to make, but we cannot afford to retain every Rolls-Royce factory that was supported by demand that has been dramatically reduced by the pandemic.

"No government support scheme can replace sustainable customer demand and no government can sign-up to extending the sort of short-term measures we have been very grateful for, over multiple years.”

Union, Unite, has described today's announcement as 'choking the company’s future', while the proposals to transfer or rundown parts of the business is 'selling the family silver’.

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Rolls-Royce's timing of the latest round of job losses stinks, workers have been left fearing for their futures as Christmas approaches.

“This announcement amounts to a death by a thousand cuts will send a chill through Rolls-Royce’s workers and the entire supply chain.

“Choking the company's future like this is clearly about pacifying the city and shareholders in the short term, while disregarding the hopes and concerns of workers and their families."

He added: “Plans to sell the Hucknall plant and transfer work from Barnoldswick and Inchinnan is selling the family silver, the work is crucial to Rolls-Royce and the skills of the workforce are unique.

“The blame for the latest job losses must also fall on the government. Unlike other countries such as France and Germany, it has failed to provide specific support to the aerospace sector, which is resulting in job losses being far steeper in the UK than in other countries.

“Unite is calling on the government to immediately step in to prevent these job losses and to ensure the future of the aerospace sector in the UK.

“Unite is fully prepared to enter into detailed negotiations with Rolls-Royce to fully consider all alternatives in order to preserve jobs and guarantee the future of all the company’s manufacturing plants.”

Rolls-Royce has already closed its sites at Barnoldswick for an extended Christmas break because of on going strike action.