Airbus weighs separate boss for planemaking arm - sources

Airbus is contemplating a management shake-up that could restore a de facto separate leader for its planemaking business and free CEO Guillaume Faury to tackle broader strategic priorities, people familiar with the matter said. French-born Faury currently combines the job of running the world's largest jetmaker, at a time of widespread disruption following the pandemic, with CEO of the wider aerospace and defence group, to which he was re-appointed last year.


That mirrors a structure under which the planemaking business technically owns the two smaller divisions, Helicopters, and Defence & Space, following an internal merger. But the people said a series of crises, including supply chain disruptions, had transformed a succession planning exercise into an early examination of a possible reorganisation to tighten industrial control and free Faury for other priorities, like defence. 

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The timing and definition of the new role remain unclear and depend on board approval, which is not guaranteed, they said. One source stressed that the decision was far from automatic. "We don't comment on rumours or speculation regarding organisational or personnel changes," an Airbus spokesperson said. Any discussion of Airbus' management structure is fraught with sensitivities because of its history of internal disputes, which sometimes strained industrial relations between founding nations that still own stakes: France, Germany, and Spain.


Airbus says it is no longer politically driven following an agreement to limit government interference a decade ago. But such a structure would draw inevitable comparisons with the era of former planemaking chief Fabrice Bregier, who left Airbus in 2018 after a power battle with then CEO Tom Enders. Airbus is keen not to re-create organisational fault lines seen in the past but must balance this with the need to give any new planemaking boss clear authority, something that could jar with Faury's reputation as a hands-on manager, one person said. One executive most likely to be sounded out for such a role is Bruno Even, a Faury loyalist who has overseen growth as CEO of Airbus Helicopters, the people said. It remains unclear whether Even, also French, is willing to make such a move.


Having a visible planemaking leader would more closely echo rival Boeing (BA.N), each of whose divisions has its own boss. Although insiders argued it made sense to combine leadership of the group with its dominant civil arm when Faury stepped up from the jet unit to become CEO in 2019, the pandemic aftermath and war in Ukraine have redrawn the strategic environment. Analysts note Airbus has been peaceful of late after years of internal strife. But several senior operational leaders outside Faury's immediate circle have left in recent years, leaving the group short of senior civil jetmaking experience. Jet deliveries sped up in May and June after a weak start to the year but Airbus remains focused on ambitious output targets. Much could depend on how far any leader role went beyond the functions of operations chief Alberto Gutierrez and how it left the national balance on Airbus' executive committee, already strained by the six-month wait for a new German finance chief. Airbus reports half-yearly earnings on Wednesday.

Endless Possibilities

Source: Reuters

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