Thousands of jobs could be at risk at British aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which on Sunday said it was in talks with unions about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on operations.

As many as 8,000 jobs could be affected, according to one person familiar with the matter, as the firm grappled with what it said was the "unprecedented" fall-out from the global pandemic.

"We have taken swift action to increase our liquidity, dramatically reducing our spending in 2020, and strengthen our resilience in these exceptionally challenging times," a spokesman said.

"But we will need to take further action," he added.

The company, which has 50,000 staff in 50 countries, including some 24,000 in the UK, is working with employee and union representatives.

Further details on job losses would be given to staff before the end of the month, the spokesman said.

Airlines have faced massive fallout from travel restrictions because of the virus
Airlines have faced massive fallout from travel restrictions because of the virus Ritzau Scanpix / Martin Sylvest

The global aviation industry has been badly affected by the outbreak, forcing flights to be cancelled because of lack of demand and restrictions on travel.

According to the International Air Transport Association trade body, air traffic dropped by more than half in March compared with the same period last year.

US aerospace giant Boeing has said it expected to make thousands of job cuts because of the fall in traffic volume, with demand dropping to levels not seen since 2006.

Traffic had previously dropped 10.3 percent year-on-year in February.

Europe's Airbus last week reported a net first-quarter loss of 481 million euros ($522 million), compared to a profit of 40 million euros in the same period last year.

Airbus said in early April it had cut aircraft production by around a third as global airlines scaled back their plans because of the pandemic.