Airbus leadership turmoil

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December 18, 2017
Enders leaves Airbus
Airbus CEO Tom Enders. Photo: Steve Creedy.

Changes in the top echelons of Airbus continue with the airline’s head of commercial aircraft leaving in February and chief executive Tom Enders announcing a 2019 departure, saying “fresh minds’ are needed to lead the company into the 2020s.

The European aerospace giant immediately named current head of Airbus Helicopters Guillaume Faury to replace  Airbus chief operating officer and Commerical Aircraft president Fabrice Bregier after he departs in February.

Airbus, the European success story that  rose over five decades to command half of the global air transport market, has seen its reputation battered in recent years by corruption allegations in multiple jurisdictions.

Staff were warned  in October of potentially significant penalties as the result of UK and French investigations into the use of middlemen in aircraft sales.

There have also been reports of tensions between Enders and Bregier.

Bregier said he was stepping down after 25 years at the company because he felt the time was right and to pursue other opportunities outside the company.

“I have been fully dedicated to Airbus and to its success during all these years, and up to my departure next year I will remain focused on meeting Airbus’ commitments to all stakeholders and on ensuring a smooth handover to my successor,” he said in a statement released Friday.

Guillaume is seen as a likely candidate for 59-year-old Enders’ job  and,  at 10 years his junior, would herald a generational change at the company.

But the Airbus board has left its options open, announcing it would look at both internal and external candidates for the top job.

Enders said he would not seek another term as CEO after his current mandate expires in April, 2019.

“The privilege of serving this great company comes with a responsibility to support a smooth succession when the time is ripe,’’ he said. “In 2019, I will have served all together 14 years at the helm of Airbus and EADS.

“It’s been a long and exciting journey but now is the time to initiate a leadership change. We need fresh minds for the 2020s.

” In the coming 16 months, I will work with the Board to ensure a smooth transition to the next CEO and a new generation of leaders; I will focus on our business challenges; and I will further progress and strengthen our ethics and compliance programmes.”

The Airbus CEO  said Faury represented the next generation of leaders at Airbus and during his tenure at Airbus Helicopters had demonstrated broad business and industry experience, an international mindset and “a clear focus on delivering value”.

Also departing the Airbus executive ranks is hugely successful chief salesman John Leahy, who is retiring after 33 years with the company.