Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Airbus chief leaves because of political infighting.

Bidness: He doesn't need the headache in what is ending up to be the largest welfare scheme in the world.

A POLITICAL battle between France and Germany led to the departure of Christian Streiff as chief executive of the troubled aircraft maker, Airbus. M Streiff’s resignation comes just four months after he was appointed to bring a steady hand to the crisis-torn company. He will be replaced by Louis Gallois, who will combine the job with his role as joint chief executive of its parent group, EADS. EADS said that all its other divisions, including defence and space, would report to the German joint chief executive, Thomas Enders. The changes effectively end Airbus’s autonomy and bring it completely under EADS’s control. The group said that the new structure was “more simple and efficient”. However, The Times understands that M Streiff’s departure was the result of a power struggle between the French and German governments. M Streiff has been attempting to restructure Airbus after production delays to its A380 superjumbo, cost it €4.8 billion (£3.2 billion) in lost earnings. One of his ideas was to shift fuselage production from Hamburg to Toulouse, where the plane is assembled. The German Government is thought to have invested €750 million in the Hamburg plant and was furious that jobs might be lost to France. M Streiff is believed to have written his resignation letter on Friday. The German Government pressed for the resignation to be accepted, while the French Government, which owns 15 per cent of EADS, backed M Streiff. The impasse was resolved last night with the Germans getting their way.

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