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Airbus is preparing to shake up its senior leadership and appoint a dedicated head of its flagship civil aircraft business as Europe’s aerospace and defence champion seeks to tackle operational issues and geopolitical challenges.
Under the plans group chief executive Guillaume Faury will relinquish his role as head of the planemaking business to Christian Scherer, current group chief commercial officer, according to two people briefed on the situation, with Scherer reporting to Faury.
The revamp is the most significant shake-up at the top of Airbus since Faury took over as chief executive in April 2019.
Faury, who was previously president of the company’s commercial aircraft business, has combined the roles of group CEO and planemaking boss for the past four years.
Splitting them will allow him to focus on the group’s wider strategy as well as its defence and space activities, which have gained in prominence since Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine last year.
Faury currently spends roughly half of his time on the company’s commercial aerospace activities, which generated 70 per cent of group revenues last year. Airbus hopes that Scherer, a company veteran, will bring a dedicated focus to the commercial operation at a time of significant operational challenges.
Airbus, which overtook US rival Boeing as the world’s biggest plane maker in 2019, is seeking to increase the production of its aircraft to meet resurgent demand from airlines in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Yet persistent supply chain constraints, as well as recent problems with some of the engines for its best-selling A320neo family of jets, had created “some pretty sizeable challenges,” said one of the people.
Problems with the geared turbofan engines made by US engine maker Pratt & Whitney that power some of the A320neos could yet hamper Airbus’s plans to increase the output of its jets over the next two years.
The reorganisation, which was first reported by Reuters, could be announced as early as this week, the people said.
Airbus declined to comment on “rumours and speculation regarding organisational or personnel changes”.