Airbus top management exits fuel fresh suspicions over A380 viability

European plane manufacturer will be without CEO, COO and top salesman by 2019
A spate of resignations mean Airbus will be without three of its top executives by 2019, prompting fresh speculation about the future of Airbus, and in particular the A380 programme.
By Shayan Shakeel
Sun 17 Dec 2017 12:29 PM

A spate of resignations mean Airbus will be without three of its top executives by 2019, prompting fresh speculation about the future of Airbus, and in particular the A380 programme.

Airbus announced its chief operating officer and president of its commercial plan manufacturing business, Fabrice Brégier will step down in February. Tom Enders will also no longer seek another term as CEO and depart in April 2019.

Both exits come after the European plane maker’s top salesman, John Leahy, the man responsible for much of Airbus’ order winning success in recent years, decided to step down earlier this year.

Leahy had been looking for orders gold at the Dubai Airshow in November when a new Airbus A380 deal with Emirates was set to be announced before a last minute hitch saw talks fall through. The deal would have all but guaranteed the future of the super jumbo which Airbus has been struggling to get more airlines accept into their fleet.


Thomas Enders (R) and Fabrice Bregier. (REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Brégier told ITP Media Group’s sister publication Aviation Business in October, that the plane maker was looking to find an acceptable production and delivery rate for the A380 programme which forms the backbone of Emirates’ fleet.

Emirates had asked for guarantees that Airbus would keep the aircraft in production for at least 10 years, a key point of contention which led to no announcement of a deal for more aircraft at the Airshow.

Later in December, Brégier told Reuters that Airbus might reduce A380 production to six or seven a year to help meet that demand.

However, Airbus needs to produce at least 20 of the aircraft a year to meet breakeven costs, meaning reduced production would leave the programme unprofitable unless a lower breakeven could be achieved.


John Leahy. (Getty Images)

Brégier’s replacement Guillaume Faury, currently CEO at Airbus Helicopters, is being brought in to inject “fresh blood” into a leadership marred by power struggles between Brégier and Enders for the top CEO slot as well as corruption investigations into Airbus’ use of middle-men to sell aircraft.

Until Airbus’ board names a new CEO to replace Enders, Faury’s support for the A380 programme, or lack of it, will be seen as crucial to how the European manufacturer will approach tackling the ailing superjumbo’s fortunes.

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Last Updated: Sun 17 Dec 2017 01:56 PM GST

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