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Airbus Chief Bregier to Empower Local Sites in Company Overhaul

Airbus Chief Bregier to Empower Local Sites in Company Overhaul
Fabrice Bregier, chief operating officer of Airbus. Photographer: Xabier Mikel Laburu/Bloomberg

Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Airbus SAS Chief Executive Office Fabrice Bregier said he wants to hand more power to local sites, in the biggest overhaul since the aircraft maker emerged from the crisis of the delayed A380 superjumbo five years ago.

Middle management will gain more authority to make some investment decisions without requiring approval from headquarters, Bregier told journalists yesterday in Berlin. The overhaul will take effect at the start of next year, under the supervision of Chief Operating Officer Guenter Butschek.

“Now is the time to give a little bit more power to local teams in our countries, in our programs, in our plants,” Bregier said in a meeting on the eve of the Berlin air show. “We need to take decisions faster. This is a weakness of Airbus. It takes much too long to make decisions, I want to speed it up and simplify it.”

The plan marks the first indication of how Bregier plans to run the world’s largest maker of commercial aircraft after taking over in June. Bregier said he is moving on from an effort half a decade ago to integrate the pan-European company more and centralize decisions in the wake of years-long delays on the A380 double-decker, as he now seeks to make Airbus more nimble in order to respond more rapidly.

The proposed changes come as Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. undergoes organizational changes of its own. EADS, run by former Airbus CEO Tom Enders, added more Airbus managers to its executive committee this month and switched senior management at the Cassidian defense unit.

Airbus is EADS’s most prominent subsidiary and the one that brings in the largest share of revenue. The company is working through a backlog of more than 4,000 aircraft that give it years of continuous work. Bregier said the company won’t shift to a production rate of 44 classic single-aisle jets as moving up to 42 at the end of the year is already a challenge.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andrea Rothman in Toulouse at aerothman@bloomberg.net; Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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