Airbus chief attacks national divisions

18th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois says national pride has been the downfall of the European aircraft manufacturer in which France and Germany are the biggest partners.

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois says national pride has been the downfall of the European aircraft manufacturer in which France and Germany are the biggest partners.

Airbus and its parent company EADS announced major delays in the construction of its A380 superjumbo a year ago, plunging the company into a restructuring process that sparked demonstrations in France and Germany.

"It is because of national pride that we have the problem of the A380," Gallois said in an interview with Friday's International Herald Tribune newspaper.

Airbus airliners are assembled in France with parts made also in Germany, Britain and Spain.

But the dominant partners are France and Germany, and deep strains between the two sides have appeared on several occasions, most recently over the distribution of crisis cutbacks.

Gallois, a Frenchman who took over at Airbus in October, said one of his first acts was to ban the use of national flags in company presentations because "when you have a flag you have always an issue of national identity."

He said he was surprised at the extent of the divisions along national lines within the company.

"It was a discovery," Gallois said. "I am surprised by the limited progress made on integration over the last 10 years.

"Perhaps it was not the priority because things were working well. But we have seen with the A380 that things are not working well."

Gallois said the technical problems with the A380 had revealed the extent of the problems in building aircraft in a number of different sites in different countries, with engineers attempting to correct problems working in different ways.

When rear fuselage sections of A380s built in the German city of Hamburg began arriving at the main Airbus site in Toulouse, France, in 2004 they lacked the correct wiring for the aircraft's in-flight entertainment system.

It was discovered that the computer modelling softwares used by the company's German and French sites were incompatible.

Gallois said that next month, in an attempt to make the construction process work more smoothly, he would present trades unions with a plan to revamp the organisational structures of the company.

"We cannot afford to pay twice" for the problems that led to the A380 crisis, he told the paper.

"I think it is the right time to change."

Gallois said the changes would involve transferring some jobs to different locations in Europe.

"It will be a huge change," he said. "It means training and mobility of staff."

New French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made resolving Franco-German problems at EADS a top priority.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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