TEN years ago this September Airbus’s first A380 superjumbo, laden with passengers, took to the skies over Toulouse. Airbus’s bosses hoped that the world’s largest jetliner, the first with two full decks, would help the European planemaker get even with its American rival, Boeing. But problems quickly mounted. In October 2006 Airbus revealed the third delay to the A380 programme. Development costs spiralled out of control, to $15 billion; three chief executives lost their jobs in succession that year.
The trauma prompted a sweeping modernisation effort that went further on September 30th with a restructuring announcement by Tom Enders, Airbus Group’s chief executive. The company began as a jumble of the national aerospace firms of France, Germany, Britain and Spain, jointly known as EADS, in 1967. Mr Enders has laboured, with much success, to reduce state influence on the group and to create a profit-driven firm like any other. But the roots of the past run deep. Airbus Group sits at the top of three divisions—jetliners, defence and space, and helicopters. The jetliner division, for…Continue reading