Several thousand Airbus employees staged protests outside eight production sites across Spain Friday over the European plane-maker's plans to axe 630 jobs.

Announced on Wednesday, the Spanish layoffs are part of a broad cull aimed at axing 2,362 posts across Europe, including 829 in Germany, 404 in France, 357 in the United Kingdom and 142 in other countries.

Outside the aerospace giant's facilities in Getafe, a southern suburb of Madrid, a large crowd of close to a thousand people turned out to observe a brief work stoppage and demonstrate alongside a huge banner reading: "There is no surplus here".

"They have told us 630 jobs will be called into question with the restructuring the company is proposing. We have shown our absolute rejection of that," said Francisco San Jos?, an official with CCOO, one of Spain's largest unions.

Other demonstrations and brief work stoppages were widely observed at Airbus' seven other plants across Spain, a union spokesman said, saying "thousands of employees" had joined the protests.

"We're all worried because there are a lot of jobs and there's no room for job cuts here," admitted Cristian Fuentes, an Airbus employee. "People are a bit scared, to say the least."

Airbus said the cuts would take effect in the next two years in its defence and space division, which accounts for 15 percent of the group's overall revenue.

But Jorge Escribano, another union representative at Airbus, said that given the positive performance in the company's civil division, there should be room for manoeuvre.

"Airbus is a big multinational that has a defence section and a civil section and the civil section is getting fantastic results. We think that if it's true that there is a lack of work in the defence section, it should be able to adapt by increasing the workload of the civil section."

Airbus employs 13,000 people across Spain, but union bosses said the final number of jobs to be affected was not immediately clear, expressing concerns that smaller and medium-sized subcontractors were likely to be worst hit.