"I Don't Want To See Flags In The Company"
A newly resurgent Airbus -- buoyed by recent orders for its A330
and upcoming A350 XWB -- is looking to stay that way, after
suffering through a series of debilitating problems last year.
Company president Louis Gallios recently said one way to avoid
future strife, is to abandon the nationalistic management structure
that has defined the planemaker since its creation almost 40 years
"This is a completely new in Airbus," Airbus President Louis
Gallois (above) said to reporters, according to Reuters. "I don't
want to see flags in the company. We don't want to talk about
Germany but Bremen or Hamburg; not France but Saint-Nazaire or
Nantes. We have to create an Airbus spirit overcoming a national
That national spirit -- in which French and German sides of the
aerospace consortium maintained an uneasy balance-of-power,
sensitive to any shift in managerial weight between the two
countries -- is blamed in part for last year's announcement of a
second production delay for the flagship Airbus A380. French and
German factories refused to use the same design software... and as
a result, when the time came to install wiring inside the plane,
routing holes did not match up between fuselage segments.
The resulting fallout from that delay -- including an ongoing
investigation into insider trading rumors -- sent EADS stock
tumbling. As ANN reported, that led to
the announcement earlier this year of 10,000 job cuts at Airbus
factories throughout Germany, France, Britain and Spain under the
Power8 restructuring plan.
Relations between the French and German governments are also
strained, though the situation seems to have improved in recent
weeks. At this week's G8 summit in Germany, newly-elected French
President Nicolas Sarkozy expressed confidence his German
counterpart, Chancellor Angela Merkel, viewed the situation
similarly -- adding the two leaders planned to visit Airbus
headquarters in July, as a showing of unity.
"I am very happy to see we
are on the same wave length on almost all subjects, notably
bilateral issues," Sarkozy said. "She confirmed that she would come
with me to the Airbus factories in Toulouse. That's very important,
I think, to all Airbus workers."
Appealing to workers is one thing; the true success of such an
endeavour, though, may lie with country chiefs at the
Under the new power-delegation structure, they would see their
jobs reduced to primarily representative roles, although they would
still be responsible for union negotiations. Production would also
be organized under four, cross-border themes, according to Reuters
-- instead of being assigned on a per-country basis.
A new day may, in fact, be dawning for Airbus... but plenty of
clouds from the old ones still loom. On Wednesday, German workers
staged a series of wildcat strikes against the planemaker, in
protest of Power8 cuts. Airbus also still needs to sell off all or
part of six manufacturing plants.
Last month, EADS was also forced to defer plans to raise capital
through the issuance of convertible bonds... as negotiating terms
between all sides would have meant addressing deeper rivalries
within the company.