Meeting delivery deadlines is Airbus' biggest challenge, boss says

Business Materials 14 October 2007 00:44

( AFP ) - Airbus head Thomas Enders acknowledged in an interview to be published Monday that the delay-plagued European plane maker would continue having difficulty meeting future delivery deadlines for its A380 jetliner.

"In fact, the greatest challenge is still before us," Enders told the German weekly Der Spiegel, in response to a question about whether there would be new delays in scheduled deliveries for the super-jumbo craft. "Only when we've been able to keep our production forecasts for the next two years will the A380 program really have overcome the obstacles."

That means delivering 13 planes next year and four per month from now until 2010, Enders said.

Airbus plans to deliver its first completed A380 -- 18 months behind schedule -- to Singapore Airlines in the southern French town of Toulouse on Monday.

While sketching other ways the company could improve its performance -- notably through greater manufacturing flexibility -- Enders blamed current problems on a "lack of integration and coordination of processes in the enterprise."

"That's our big subject," he added, "that's where we need to move things."

Still, Airbus received a boost Thursday with the announcement it had won a major deal to sell 61 aircraft, including four A380s, to Spanish travel group Marsans.

In the interview, Enders attributed Airbus' ability to compete with top American rival Boeing to its greater manufacturing flexibility.

"If, for example, the Germans aren't able to handle their workload, then the French, the British or the Spanish must do the work," he said. "After all, we're all in the same boat, and none of our clients ask us where we construct what, they just want to know when we will deliver."

Noting that most of the company's profits are earned outside Europe, Enders also said Airbus should shift its attention to non-European countries with growing aeronautics industries.