Airbus defended its decision to keep importing Russian titanium, contending sanctions would hurt aerospace manufacturers who depend on the lightweight metal and wouldn’t deter Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine.
The European planemaker has been stockpiling titanium for many years, CEO Guillaume Faury said at the company’s annual general meeting Tuesday. That’s given the company some breathing room in the short and medium term, even if an embargo does take effect.
“We don’t think sanctions on import will be appropriate,” Faury said. “This will be a small impact on Russia, and would have large consequences on the rest of the countries and the industry. So we think the no-sanction policy actually is the most meaningful one.”
Airbus, a major customer of Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA, has so far been able to keep importing the material, which hasn’t been directly targeted by a growing list of European Union sanctions aimed at punishing President Putin over his invasion of Ukraine. U.S. rival Boeing has halted Russian purchases.
Russia provides about half of Airbus’ titanium needs, directly or through key suppliers. The company has been stockpiling the metal since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, Chief Financial Officer Dominik Asam said.
The planemaker, based in Toulouse, France, is working to bridge the gap in long-term supply by seeking out secondary sources, Faury said.
The metal is prized in aerospace for its strength, low mass and corrosion resistance, making it ideal for components such as landing gear. It’s also used to attach the carbon-fiber outer shell of the A350 widebody because, like composites, it doesn’t flex as much as other metals with temperature changes.