Airbus Names Williams to Succeed Operating Chief Butschek

Airbus Group NV appointed Tom Williams to succeed Guenter Butschek as chief operating officer of the airliner unit, shifting management as the manufacturer seeks to upgrade commercial models and turn around its military unit.

Williams, 62, will take his new post and join the group executive committee on Jan. 1, Toulouse, France-based Airbus said in a statement today. Butschek, who joined the company in 2011, will leave Airbus to pursue other opportunities, the planemaker said.

“I cannot think of anybody better suited internally than Tom Williams to replace Gunter,” group Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said in the statement. The “critically important” job “requires significant operational experience.”

The announcement comes one week after Airbus published a muted earnings update and sought to dispel concern that it may ditch its flagship A380 superjumbo. Fabrice Bregier, who leads the company’s airliner unit, told investors on Dec. 11 that upgrades of the A380 are just a matter of time, a day after the parent company’s finance chief raised the prospect of discontinuing the plane as soon as 2018.

Didier Evrard, who runs the A350 XWB airliner project, will take over Williams’s post as executive vice president of programs at Airbus. Klaus Richter, chief procurement officer, has been promoted to the group’s executive committee.

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