GKN: What Does It Take To Keep Aerospace Work In The UK?
Despite its recent successes, GKN hasn’t had everything its own way. In December 2011, it lost out to Korea Aerospace Industries for some wing structures work for Airbus A320s. According to then Airbus chief executive Thomas Enders, the European airframer opted to send the work to Korea for “purely competitive reasons,” and, in January, he stated that “GKN did not make the upmost effort to come up with a competitive offer.”
GKN didn’t respond at the time, but at a press briefing in May it hinted that they might not have been competing on an entirely level playing field in trying to win the contract. “Our strategy was to leverage a large UK solution,” said Mike McCann, senior v-p business development and strategy. “We knew it was going to be challenging as the Koreans were very open about wanting to bring technology in and they have strong government backing.”
So does that mean that the UK government gives insufficient backing to firms like GKN? McCann acknowledged contributions such as an interest-bearing loan of approximately $93 million toward the new composites Western Approach factory. He also praised government support for a new UK aerodynamics center. “But the UK should think more like Japan, Korea, Singapore or the U.S.,” he concluded, suggesting that these countries have a more integrated strategy for boosting their aerospace industries.