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Airbus caught up in turbulence

Stephen Beard Jun 16, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Man, has it been a terrible week for European planemaker Airbus. Tuesday parent company EADS announced its big new plane, the A380, would be late getting to airlines. There’s talk of insider trading. And now we’re hearing about some serious turbulence between the company’s French and German executives. From the Marketplace European Desk in London, Stephen Beard reports:

STEPHEN BEARD: EADS shareholders must be feeling bruised. News that the world’s largest passenger jet — the double-deck A380 — is now one year behind schedule knocked 25% off the company’s shares. Then, the company’s French co-chief exeucitve said he’d sold a lot of his stock three months ago.

Analyst David Buick:

DAVID BUICK: The perception is — we don’t know for a fact — that he must have known these Airbuses were going to be late. And he just says: “It’s an unfortunate coincidence.”I think we need a little bit more meat on the bone.

So does the French stockmarket regulater. Two investigations are now underway. The French co-CEO is reported to be bickering with his German counterpart. This dual leadership was once hailed as a model of European cooperation. Not anymore, says Kieran Daly of Air Transport Intelligence:

KIERAN DALY: There is something of a Franco-German split over this now and they clearly are not a great working partnership . . . Well, not anymore, anyway.

Boeing could be forgiven for gloating. A few years ago, it was mired in scandal and struggling to keep up with Airbus. Now the roles have been reversed:

DALY: Boeing is going absolutely great guns. And EADS — and Airbus in particular — have gone from being absolutely all-conquering a couple of years back to now looking in a very sorry situation indeed.

Boeing rubbed salt in the wound this week. It announced that Singapore Airlines is buying 20 of its 787 Dreamliners, the main rival to Airbus’s A350, whose launch has also been delayed.

In London this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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