Full steam ahead on Airbus integration

Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said this week that plans to create a single corporate entity would not be hampered by what he called ‘foot dragging’ over closer integration in the rest of the European defence and aerospace community. ‘Integration for Airbus has to be done next year,’ he said. ‘The only clock for Airbus […]

Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said this week that plans to create a single corporate entity would not be hampered by what he called ‘foot dragging’ over closer integration in the rest of the European defence and aerospace community.

‘Integration for Airbus has to be done next year,’ he said. ‘The only clock for Airbus is the market, and the market is demanding new product.’

The single corporate entity (SCE) for Airbus will replace the present loose consortium arrangements between partners British Aerospace, Aerospatiale of France, Dasa of Germany and Casa of Spain. It is scheduled to be in place by mid-1999, Forgeard said six months later than originally planned.

Progress has been slow, but negotiations are under way between the four partners over the valuation of their respective equity stakes in the new company. Forgeard stressed that the new Airbus would eventually be no more than one part of a wider European aerospace and defence grouping.

The next key event for Airbus is the launch of the $10bn (£5.9bn) A3XX super jumbo airliner due to enter service from 2004. An Airbus executive said a decision on the launch would probably be taken by the turn of the century.

Forgeard said there will be a demand in the next 20 years for over 1,300 aircraft with more than 400 seats each, worth more than US$300bn, or 25% of the total revenues of the Airbus consortium’s aircraft makers. He dismissed Boeing’s scepticism over the likely market for such an aircraft.

Forgeard said he would try to salvage something from last week’s collapse of talks with China over the building of a 100-seat airliner.

He also announced a 3% rise in Airbus aircraft prices.