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Tom Enders Talks Forthcoming 2014 Financial Results, A400M, And The Reorg


I've pulled together some snippets from Enders' Jan. 29 Airbus press dinner in Paris:

Space: We had our best year ever in our space business [in 2014], which is a little bit surprising. But space is coming back. I said today, space is exciting again, it really is. Interestingly enough, it has a lot do with with impulses that came from the U.S. The excitement and enthusiasm about space in the 1960s and 70s came from the the Apollo moon landing, and today it's again in the U.S., where private entrepreneurs are investing in space, and daring to do new stuff. It's a huge challenge for the rest of the space industry, but at the same time, it's a huge opportunity, as I said, space is exciting again, we see a lot of opportunities, and feel a reenergizing of space is underway.

Commercial: For me, more important than 1,400 or 1,700 new orders for the industry is that we have a record order book that is still growing. On the A350, we have continuous challenges in 2015, the famous ramp up of production that has to happen this year and then the year after. So it's tremendously challenging. Didier [Evrard] and the team are not afraid of taking that on.

A380: I am still of the opinion that the A380 will have a great future, that we will find additional customers this year, that our teams are very creatively thinking about increasing the attractiveness further. I have a very optimistic view as far as the A380 is concerned.

Helicopters: Things are not as bright as on commercial aircraft. We're still dealing with a difficult commercial market. Deliveries are ok, but order intake is still below deliveries. We're eating up our order backlog, so 2015 is a year our helicopter colleagues and the entire crew, me included, will work very hard toward replenishing the order book.

We've had the first deliveries of the EC175, a big development program following some quite difficult years. We had the first deliveries of the EC145 T2 and EC135 T3. The X4 is being prepared for first flight. I hope we get that thing into the air before Le Bourget. That is progressing well.

Airbus Defense and Space: They have done a terrific job in 2014. They started the beginning of the year in transitory formation, legally, and with discussions with the unions. We had day one as planned on July 1, but from then we had decided – Marwan [Lahoud] had decided to carve out the launcher business, with Safran, July 1. It was already well underway and yielding substantial results in September, with very significant divestments made on the defense side. And with the ground constantly shifting under you, to steer a stable ship, with a deep division afloat and to build a new division is a tremendous task. You've done a good job.

A400M Reorg: It's not just about firing somebody, or somebody resigning, it's about organizational consequences. How can we get the program better organized, with a higher level of maturity, and accelerate military functionalities?

Domingo [Urena Raso] has done a great job over many years. He's been with the company since its creation in 2000 and before in CASA. He's a colleague who has really performed well. His resignation does not mean that it's one person to blame for the difficulties. But there are responsibilities and accountabilities and I commend Domingo for drawing the consequences in this situation.

Fernando [Alonso] is a great plus. He's the right man because he knows the aircraft in and out. He carried out the A400M test program for the last five years, ever since the first flight in 2009. Fernando is a guy that is very international, with great leadership skills. I trust that at this very juncture, a lot of development work still has to be done, but the technical skills, his knowledge of the aircraft, the leadership skills Fernando displays will show quickly he is the right man for the job now.

Pilar [Albiac-Murillo], that's the lady who has really transformed the system at Airbus Commercial. She has harmonized the factories. It doesn't matter whether you are at the factories in Germany, in Spain, in France, you immediately pick up that you are at Airbus.

A400M financial consequences: We'll have to undertake commitments with certain timelines, which if we don't fulfill, then we owe our customers money. But this time around, I will not go to our customers and request additional funding. That was necessary and appropriate in 2010. This time around, this will not happen. It is the company that needs to fix it.

Marwan Lahoud on A400M Exports: We believe in the export potential, but it's not about numbers. It's about when we look at C130s, here this plane can compete, with some assets and advantages to show. It's unique now, it has a capability and can be priced attractively. We see several hundreds of aircraft in terms of export potential.

Lahoud on A400M delays: It's everything, the entire supply line that is the problem. It's saying for example we have to stop [production] because we don't have the shipsets. It is the whole supply chain.

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