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Toyota accepts staff from halted aircraft factories of Mitsubishi Heavy

Recovering auto demand helps absorb excess workers from stalled aviation makers

Toyota group has accepted employees from airplane parts factories of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor's subsidiary Toyota Auto Body is taking several hundred employees from aircraft component makers including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, as auto demand recovers while aviation continues to struggle.

Employees from companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy and Kawasaki are being transferred to Toyota's Yoshiwara Plant in Aichi Prefecture, which makes the Land Cruiser SUV, and Inabe Plant at Mie Prefecture, which makes the Alphard and Hiace. The workers are being put to work assembling auto bodies.

Aviation manufacturers are re-allocating their staff as demand continues to remain low amid the coronavirus pandemic. As Mitsubishi Heavy's businesses in coal-fired power plants, shipbuilding and aircraft are diminishing, the company is relocating about 3,000 of its employees. These workers are to be transferred to busier segments within the company, or to other companies including the Toyota group.

Aviation parts manufacturers are suffering from falling demand for U.S. Boeing aircraft, as well as from the frozen SpaceJet passenger jet program. A Mitsubishi Heavy representative said the company was "transferring staffers in various ways in accordance with operation rates." The representative declined to comment on where the employees were being transferred to. 

Mitsubishi Heavy expects its net profit for the fiscal year ending March to decline by 77% to 20 billion yen ($192 million). Kawasaki is also looking to reduce the number of staff in its aviation segment by about 600.

On the other hand, Toyota's new car production hit bottom in April and May last year due to coronavirus and is recovering. Its total new car production of Toyota and Lexus brands in September was 840,000 units, up by 12% from the same month in the previous year. The automaker has been operating factories even on Saturdays, which is normally a day off, to meet high demand for popular vehicles.

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