Air Transport World

Bright days in Toulouse

Airbus is basking in the glow of well-received new products and the potential for more success in a reorganized future

TOULOUSE--Along with various program developments and plans Airbus Industrie described at a recent Toulouse briefing, the consortium's officials displayed, perhaps unconsciously, a new confidence in the group's accomplishments and future.

Nothing specifically was said to convey this impression, for it was just that, an impression of confidence in the maturity of the enterprise.

This new-found self-assurance has many potential sources:

* A new managing director taking over from long-serving Jean Pierson. He is Noel Forgeard, who has no need for the former's bellicose bluster born in the days when Airbus was No. 3, struggling for respect.

* A strong No. 2 position, challenging for the lead.

* A smooth and--in its own context--spectacular production-acceleration program.

* Defined plans to round out a full Airbus family with entrants at the top and bottom of the group.

* And finally, archrival Boeing stumbling badly in its own ambitious expansion program designed, in part, to deny market to Airbus.

Then again, perhaps they were happy because they had just put Singapore Airlines' A340-500 order in their pocket and assured further delay to Boeing's 777-200X launch.

Forgeard held that a 50% market share was within Airbus's grasp in five years' time. The three elements needed to achieve this goal, he said, are a full product line, an emphasis on greater company efficiencies in all processes and "good common sense. …

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