The Airbus story: A success story with problems
Originally, the founders of Airbus wanted to create a European competitor for Boeing. And they have succeeded – even if there is turbulence now. The Airbus Industries group is the civil aircraft division of the European aerospace company EADS. The declared goal of the founders was to break the dominance of the US competitor Boeing in the global market for passenger aircraft. The most important stages in the company’s history:
-1970: The Airbus consortium is founded as a Franco-German joint project of the companies Aérospatiale and Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA). The partners achieve their first international success with the twin-engine medium-range jet A300.
-1974: The Spanish company Construcciones Aeronáuticas (CASA) joins the Airbus Group. Five years later, the British aerospace and defence group British Aerospace also becomes part of the consortium. Each of the four nationally managed companies is responsible for specific production lines; final assembly and sales take place in Toulouse.
-1987: Maiden flight of the A320 in February. With the first aircraft controlled by joystick, Airbus extends its product range to short-haul aircraft. Thanks to its modern technology, the aircraft soon becomes a bestseller. The A330 and A340, developed from June onwards, complement the Airbus family in the long-haul segment.
-1995: In April, negotiations with the US market leader Boeing on the joint project for a super jumbo fail. Airbus then plans its own wide-body aircraft, for the development of which the management founds the “Large Aircraft Division” a year later.
-2001: Airbus gets an “integrated” group structure to streamline cross-border production at the 16 European sites. The German-French-Spanish EADS holds 80 percent of the shares. The remaining 20 percent are held by the British Aerospace successor BAE Systems, which sells its package in 2006. Airbus has about 1500 suppliers in 30 countries. In June, the European NATO states agree to develop the Airbus military transporter A400M.
-2004: For the first time in its almost 35-year history, Airbus receives more orders than its US archrival Boeing. In May, assembly of the A380 giant jet begins at the Hamburg-Finkenwerder plant.
-2005: The A380 takes off on its maiden flight on 27 April. In May, the dispute with Boeing over state subsidies worth billions escalates: The USA takes the EU to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and demands the establishment of a corresponding arbitration court.
-2006: In June, the Airbus management has to admit that the delivery of the A380 is significantly delayed. At the same time, the development of a new smaller A350 is stalled. The workforce fears for thousands of jobs because of possible plant closures. At the end of 2006, Airbus reports a preliminary annual turnover of 26 billion euros. Worldwide, the company employs around 55,000 people under the leadership of a Franco-German dual leadership team.