Airbus Said to Combine All Operating Units Into a Single Company

  • Decision brings jets, satellites, helicopters under one roof
  • CEO seeks to lower costs, eliminate bureaucracy in overhaul

Airbus Group SE’s board approved a plan to combine all divisions into a single company, as Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders seeks to cut costs, streamline operations and reduce bureaucracy, according to people familiar with the decision.

Airbus will appoint Fabrice Bregier as chief operating officer, elevating him from his post as head of the commercial airplane unit, which accounts for two thirds of sales and the majority of profits. His portfolio will be expanded to include helicopters, missiles, space launchers, satellites and defense electronics, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the decisions haven’t yet been announced.

Marwan Lahoud, until now the No. 2 at the corporate level, is to become strategy director for the group. Research and development activities will fall under the direction of Paul Eremenko, who has worked for Google and for the Pentagon’s advanced research arm, the people said.

Airbus is looking to reduce expenses as weak sales force it to curb production of the A380 superjumbo jet. It’s also coping with shrinking helicopter demand. The effects on the 137,000-employee workforce “in both cases are not negligible,” Enders said in an earlier memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News. Decisions on specific job reductions haven’t yet been made, one of the people said.

Enders said Sept. 19 that he planned to overhaul Airbus’s management and organization in an effort to reduce costs by eliminating duplication of roles and functions. The company has boosted productivity at the operating level as it lifts production of both single-aisle and wide-body jets to record levels.

The corporate changes at Airbus were reported earlier by Reuters.

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