The head of Airbus in the UK has warned that the company could reconsider its investment in the country in the event of the UK leaving the EU, saying such a move would be destructive with ''enormous ramifications'' for the UK's long-term future.
Delivering a blunt speech on the day that the head of the CBI called on employers to ''turn up the volume'' on the dangers of the UK's exit, or Brexit, from the EU – Paul Kahn, the president of Airbus Group UK, said that future investment and thousands of jobs would be at risk should the result of the referendum on EU membership signal an exit.
Airbus employs over 16,000 people in the UK in highly skilled jobs, including making wings for the A380, supplying helicopters and cybersecurity products.
According to Kahn, he believed it was ''vital for a company such as Airbus to come out and make a stand in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union''.
He added, senior executives of the global group had expressed serious concerns over the referendum promised by the reelected Conservative government.
Kahn said, ''I have discussed the EU situation with Denis Ranque, Tom Enders and other senior Airbus executives. They are deeply concerned by the possibility of Britain leaving the EU.''
The statement comes amid escalating rhetoric over David Cameron's pledge to hold a poll by the end of 2017.
According to Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president Sir Mike Rake, there was no "credible alternative" to the union and urged other businesses to speak out.
"If after an exit from the European Union, economic conditions in Britain were less favourable for business than in other parts of Europe, or beyond, would Airbus reconsider future investment in the United Kingdom? Yes, absolutely."
However, Kahn said he backed the prime minister's pledge to reform the union.
"I welcome the UK government's intentions to deliver positive and hoped-for reforms - which would create a leaner and more efficient EU," he said.
British Influence, a campaign group including Conservative MP Ken Clarke and Labour peer Lord Mandelson, are set to create a "Yes to Europe" group along with Business for New Europe and the European Movement.
According to Peter Wilding, director of British Influence, a new organisation would be launched with the support and input of various pro-European organisations.
"Between us we have developed a diverse network of supporters ranging from businesses to environmental charities as well as thousands of pro-Europeans."