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Airbus - What Is Their Big Picture?  
User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Posted (7 years 6 months 10 hours ago) and read 3396 times:

Well, there's no doubt that Airbus has done incredibly well at the Paris Airshow. Even if many of their orders for are LOIs and some fall away, they are suddenly at a rough par in number of orders with Boeing midway through 2007. In addition to the apparent success of the 350, the 32X and 330 families are still doing wonderfully well, sales-wise.

Consider their challenges in the last few years:

Delayed 380 Program
Delayed 350 Program
Slow sales at the wide-body end of the market
Restructuring drama.

Yet their showing is Paris is tremendously impressive, and could be compared (or am I premature) to Boeing's remarkable comeback, post-911.

Frankly, I had no idea that the 350 could be so popular with panel-composite technology. But I obviously stand corrected. Also, it seems to be unchallenged presently in it's class (being considerably larger than the first 787 variants.)

What I'd like to know is, when the dust settles and the confetti and glitter gets swept up in Paris, and everybody goes back to work, where does Airbus stand with regard to other key issues that need to be addressed?


1) They have not yet fully implemented the restructuring, which is so vital to reinventing themselves as a competitive and stand-alone company. And their unions are staging sporadic strikes in that regard.
2) They must be under some financial duress due to the 380 delay, retooling, and compensation packages.
3) Yet at the same time they are launching a new A/C, which is a very expensive and potentially risky thing to do. They have a lot of 350 orders but the bulk of payment comes at DELIVERY.
4) We have heard some governments say they are ready to step in and assist Airbus during this time (does that mean launch aid?) to make sure they survive this period of regrouping and come out a better company. (Launch aid does take some of the risk out of launching a clean-sheet A/C.) So they risk an International showdown if they take this launch aid.
6) 380 sales are still well below what they had hoped for - and VERY far from ROI.
7) They don't have an engine for the 350 - am I correct?
8) And are a number of these very large orders for the 350, so far in advance, considered "launch-customer orders," and therefore more heavily discounted?

The business world seems to be aware of these challenges, as reflected in their stock price. It seems that they "are not out of the woods, yet."

So what is their business case moving forward, would you say? Can anyone hypothesise, or for those of you "in the know," about what actions EADS/Airbus could take to makes it's comeback as a company, and what resources does it have at its disposal to do so?

-Is finding partnership with the Russia or a Middle East State, or a company to replace BAE part of their master plan?
-Do they plan to parcel out a larger portion of the risk, and therefore investment on the 350, to other participating manufacturers (787 style?).
-Do they have a huge battle on their hands with their unions, and the governments who originally created the "consortium" who now want to protect their work forces, or is Power 8 (or whatever it's called now) something they can now implement with relatively little resistance? By the way - how expensive will Power 8 be?
-Perhaps building that plant in India would bring partnership and reduce costs? What would the unions say about that?

Yes, having a fat order book is FANTASTIC, yet these other challenges prevail.

This is not a facetious or rhetorical question: If you ran Airbus, what would you do?


I come in peace
19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMaersk737 From Denmark, joined Feb 2004, 717 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (7 years 6 months 10 hours ago) and read 3370 times:

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
This is not a facetious or rhetorical question: If you ran Airbus, what would you do?

Nothing, The company is running good as it is Big grin

Cheers

Peter



I'm not proud to be a Viking, just thankfull
User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 6 months 10 hours ago) and read 3327 times:

good post SST

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
1) They have not yet fully implemented the restructuring, which is so vital to reinventing themselves as a competitive and stand-alone company. And their unions are staging sporadic strikes in that regard.

It is still a very big challenge. Especially with the treats posed by strikes. But they have to do it.

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
2) They must be under some financial duress due to the 380 delay, retooling, and compensation packages.

I think a lot of this is being addressed through the restructuring.

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
6) 380 sales are still well below what they had hoped for - and VERY far from ROI.

True, although I think we will see a small pickup in orders once it enters service.

Quoting SSTsomeday (Thread starter):
7) They don't have an engine for the 350 - am I correct?

Apart from the trent XWB, there is no alternative engine. And Im not confident that there will be before the year is over.


User currently offlineSeJoWa From United States of America, joined May 2006, 373 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 3268 times:

Hello minefield.

Your 1) - Restructuring, id est Power8, has to be priority number one for Airbus. Monsieur Gallois had this to say during meetings with European government ministers: Airbus "is in the worst state it has ever been".

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/b8c6429e-1ecb-11dc-bc22-000b5df10621.html

Knowing a.net tendencies to microparse every cough of a hangar rat, I'll simply let this stand as is.

Your 6) - A380 sales, is truly lightyears from what had been expected of the program.

And quite frankly, I am not impressed in the least by the A350 XWB's Paris showing. This program still has a long way to go.

On the other hand, Airbus' order books are so full that it couldn't be a better time to go for Power8 and live with distant returns, except that the French unions are soon going to be running amok (I do think the German unions might be a smidgeon more amenable to business logic).

There are some highly knowledgeable a.netters who might contribute more of value to such an interesting discussion, but in the end, most of us simply don't have the data as well as the experience to even propose a valid scenario.


User currently offlineBigJKU From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 883 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (7 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 3211 times:

I think Airbus is in the phase where they have been given one last big shot to get things right. Before you jump on me hear me out. They have gotten a lot of orders for the A350. Most airlines have stuck it out with the A380. They are going to get a chance to build and deliver both which will put the company back on solid footing.

However there is still risk involved in making any new plane. They cannot afford to have any A380 like problems on the A350. They have given themselves plenty of time to get it right and at this point I don't see them having much of an option but to do so. The A350 needs to be on time and on target.

They have several long term issues to sort out. In no particular order I see them as follows.

Labor/Power 8- Airbus has to control its cost better to remain profitable.

Overproduction- I think to an extent Airbus is overproducing. They have short term cash needs that make this necessary but all of that capacity cost money and if a downturn happens that becomes a large liability.

Development Time- This is the big thing for them to deal with. Development time for their products has got to come down to a more reasonable level or they will consistantly find themselves behind the eight ball. They worked seriously on the A380 plans from 1997 on and were formally in the program from late 2000 with a projected EIS of mid 2006. 6 years from project go ahead to delivery is way too long. The same problem exist with the A350. Again you are looking at a 6 year development phase from the time of the launch order. Boeing is doing the 787 in four years from launch order. For Airbus to maintain a full product range that is simply too long but it has been the norm for a while there.

I think Airbus needs to solve these problems moving ahead. The company got a good lease on life with the orders for the A350 but it has to be priority number 1 to deliver that Aircraft on time, on budget and as promised.


User currently offlineUnknownUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (7 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 3165 times:

Sell more than Boeing, no matter what cost. Prove me wrong.

User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31387 posts, RR: 85
Reply 6, posted (7 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 3151 times:
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BigJKU makes some solid points (welcome to my RU, by the way).

This week showed that the airlines of the world still believe Airbus has what it takes. Yes, the A380 continues to only score orders from it's existing customer base, but as those customer's show their continued confidence in the plane, it can only start to make others re-examine the plane again to try and find what the other's see in it.

The A350 had a good start. Multiple new orders, multiple conversions of MoUs, and multiple conversions of former A350 orders provided a nice balance to the program and showed that it appeals to new and old customers.

The A320 family continues to set records. With sales like this, I don't think they need to worry about the A320E. Airbus must have known something when they increased the production rate to 40+ and Randy's fears of saturation may come true, but if they don't, that's a lot of cash for a lot of years to help support Airbus' operations and reorganization costs.

The A330 had one (if not) the best year of her life. If she could speak, "Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated" would be her current catch-phrase. I'm just glad that this shows the 777 should still sell very well into the mid-2010's, herself.  cloudnine .

And even the old-dog A340 showed it still had some new tricks it could learn.

I hope Gallois is able to use these "votes of confidence" from the airlines as capital to make the changes under Power8 and other things he needs. And his engineers need to execute, if not perfectly, at least on track enough to ensure they make their planned EIS. Hiccups like Boeing is having with the 787 are acceptable provided that, like the 787, they are identified, solved, and do not impact EIS.


User currently offlineCloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 854 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 6 months 4 hours ago) and read 2922 times:

Since everyone is looking at the details in the picture, I am going to take a look at a much broader view.

I think, fundamentally, Airbus and Boeing are only reflective of the political climate that we are living in. We tend to look at the contest between them as two corporaitons, completely private, with only stockholders as the public to answer for. But I don't think this is any longer the case. I think we are watching a split amongst a purely corporate driven economy and government versus a more socialistic structure. As the US has become a little more defensive towards the rest of the world, a big part of what was historically allied with the US is starting to form its own political community. Boeing answers, when the chips fall, to the stock market. Airbus answers, when the chips fall, to the public of their countries.

What this means is that Boeing is driven by pure costs and profits. For Airbus, pure profits matter much less, because ultimately the governments have an interest in keeping the industry active, for the jobs and economic impact. It's kind of their version of a bankruptcy. In the SU, the governments money would come in via unemployment benefits and bankruptcy costs, and loans and other ad to help impacted companies. In the EU, for instance, they will be more direct and subsidize the company itself.

In some ways I think the buyout of MD really had a big impact on this, since really it created a stalemate. Neither one can "win" - if in fact Airbus were to fail, letting the American Boeing essentially hold a monopoly on airliners would be absolutely unacceptable to many partss of the world. And if Boeing were to fail, it would have tremendous impacts in the stock market, which would be unacceptable to most of the business world. So as much as Airbus talks about change, I don't think it will happen - I don't think the government will end up letting it happen, and I don't think the world political situation would be able to withstand it happening.

Instead of looking at it as two rival companies, perhaps look at it as two rival theologies. Boeing is the profit driven, bottom line driven company that provides the best results on your balance sheet. Airbus is a long term development driven company - you won't see the same balance sheets that you will with Boeing, but if you can look far enough ahead in time, they will pay off better. But only if you can hang in there long enough.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineSkyyMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 6 months 3 hours ago) and read 2854 times:

I never believed Airbus was in that big of a danger despite the dire predictions here. Nor do I think they are the runaway winner at Paris. Yes, they had more announcements than Boeing, and yes they are having to play catch up them for several years to come. The orders they got this week should not be surprising to anyone. All the airlines that placed substantial orders were long rumored to be in the works, so these, especially the US and SQ orders, would have been news only had they gone to Boeing. It does seem they are still selling alot of 332's to satiate buyers until the 350 is ready. It remains to be seen just how far behind B they will be at this point. I still do not believe the 380 will EVER come even remotely close to breaking even, so enjoy it for the niche plane it will be. It appears, that for the next 5-6 years, A will continue to excel in narrow body aircraft as it plays catchup to B. Both will still be around in 2020 IMO.

User currently offlinePygmalion From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 969 posts, RR: 38
Reply 9, posted (7 years 6 months 3 hours ago) and read 2808 times:

I do think that Airbus ended up cutting deeper into their profit margins than they wanted to. Some of these orders were bought at the cost of much reduced profit margins. It was the right thing to do to restore business confidence but....

Since they are using future forecasts of profits when they do these deals... The Power8 plan is just plain critical to their future. I think you were going to see their profit margins soften into the next 4-5 years even with a highly effective cost cutting strategy as a result of all the delays. If Power8 does not come home as expected, their wallets will be severely depleted when it comes time to go onto the next project, the A320RS.

Airbus needs to get their cost structure under control... soon. A much stronger Euro could really hurt them.

They also need to pull off the A350XWB program flawlessly. A missed execution of the program will really hurt them in the future.


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31387 posts, RR: 85
Reply 10, posted (7 years 6 months 3 hours ago) and read 2775 times:
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In addition to mentioning that Airbus' profits on the Paris orders was below what they expected (but still above what they planned for), Leahey also noted that Boeing is getting very aggressive on pricing, as well.

I know some don't care for what aircraft valuation firms estimate for these orders, but they show Boeing and Airbus to be pretty much similar in their discounting. There are rumors and insinuations that Airbus is discounting very deep on the A350 (at least for major orders), but then the same is said for large 767 and A340 orders, as well.

I really just do not see any independent collaboration of any kind of conspiracy on the part of Airbus or Boeing to systematically cut to the bone in terms of price to win orders.


User currently offlineCloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 854 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 6 months 2 hours ago) and read 2735 times:

I don’t think that last post of mine really came out clear. Let me try that again…

I don’t think it is a matter of which company is going to “win”. This is not just about companies at this point. Over the last 10 years, whether we realize it or not, the world has changed. A lot. The world was used to living in the cold war. It was easy – you were either capitalist or communist. There were only two sides, with the US carrying the banner on the capitalist side and the USSR leading the communist. But that has changed. Yes, there does seem to be a growing split between the Christian western world and the Muslim Middle East. But a lot of people aren’t very comfortable with that. And that is creating a different fracture. Pure capitalism, where the corporate world is responsible only to the stock market, is no longer seen as positive it once was. Today, in a number of countries, the population is demanding that the focus be on the public first. They no longer see a problem with the government influencing the business world, and no longer feel that business needs come first.

What this means is that the aircraft manufacturing industry, especially when it comes to commercial aircraft, is no longer independent of politics. They are no longer businesses competing in the sales arena – they are political tools to both promote one’s theology as well as to stimulate and reinforce the economy. For Boeing that simply means a focus on American style business operations. Short to medium term outlooks (as this is where the stock market looks), bottom line efficiencies, and success being measured by profit. For Airbus, they now look much more long term, not only their success but their survival now being dictated by how well they address the needs of the public at large. A more socialistic government no longer sees value in a company that is just financially healthy – it must not have a negative impact on social issues.

That means that the products each company sells, and how they go about building and selling them, are different. Boeing builds planes that meet the needs of the airline’s bottom lines. Particularly private, western style airlines driven by profits. Airbus pays more attention to national airlines. The 380 is a plane that address the environmental need, through simple economies of mass, while willing to give up on the marketing bonus of more frequent flights. It address space issues for crowded airports where there simply isn’t enough slots available for all the flights an airline wants. And it reflects international prestige. Whether or not you agree with these issues, this is what is being demanded in many countries now. Airbus, unlike Boeing, has a greater need to address them.

You will see some fluctuation as to which company is ahead. But overall, I don’t see there every being a case where Boeing dwarfs Airbus, or Airbus radically outdistances Boeing. That simply won’t happen because if Airbus pulls ahead, political pressure from the US will then seek to cut assistance to Airbus or seek to promote Boeing, while if Boeing pulls too far ahead, political pressures will seek to keep Boeing from dominating the market.

As an aside, with the 350 being panel construction, even though that will affect weight, will it have an effect on building cost and complexity? Perhaps the tradeoff in efficiency is that the 350 will be that much cheaper and less complex?



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineMariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 25688 posts, RR: 85
Reply 12, posted (7 years 6 months 2 hours ago) and read 2701 times:
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Quoting Cloudboy (Reply 11):
Boeing builds planes that meet the needs of the airline’s bottom lines.

Such as Emirates? Or Singapore Airlines? Or - Ryanair?

Quoting Cloudboy (Reply 11):
Airbus pays more attention to national airlines.

Such as Emirates? Or Singapore Airlines? So where does that leave Easyjet?

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (7 years 5 months 4 weeks ago) and read 2500 times:

Thank you for your posts!

Quoting Maersk737 (Reply 1):
Nothing, The company is running good as it is

I don't think so. I believe giving priority to "splitting management and work forces between two countries and keeping everybody happy" rather than "the bottom line" cannot be the most productive, efficient or profitable way to run Airbus. Designing and building airliners by committee cannot be the best way to do it, from a cost or technological standpoint.

Not only is running a company in this way less efficient and therefore less profitable in general, but we know the 380 wiring (and who knows what else) delay was do to two incompatible computer systems in two different countries, and two work forces which functioned too independently of each other.

Further, I believe that government support and launch aid (I know this is flame bait) blinded the Europeans with a hubris to put tremendous effort and resources into the 380 when I think they should have realised it would be a niche A/C. I believe it's also why they had so many misses with earlier 350 designs. You can't run a profatable company by a committee that has too much easy money avaiable to them.

My analogy would be, when you consistently give a youngster too much allowance ($) and no responsibility, he doesn't learn to work efficiently and he doesn't learn the value of money.

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 4):
Labor/Power 8- Airbus has to control its cost better to remain profitable.

 thumbsup 

Quoting Pygmalion (Reply 9):
Airbus needs to get their cost structure under control


 thumbsup 

Quoting Cloudboy (Reply 7):
What this means is that Boeing is driven by pure costs and profits. For Airbus, pure profits matter much less, because ultimately the governments have an interest in keeping the industry active, for the jobs and economic impact.

If you are suggesting that Power 8 not be fully implemented, and that Airbus remain reliant on government support, turning it more into a government project rather than a stand-alone company; I believe such a scenario would perpetuate their problems:

-North Atlantic trade violations for unfair subsides; lawsuits into perpetuity.
-Continued financial irresponsibility.
-Not being fully in touch with the market. (If recent history is any indication).



I come in peace
User currently offlineCloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 854 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 2243 times:

Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 13):
If you are suggesting that Power 8 not be fully implemented, and that Airbus remain reliant on government support, turning it more into a government project rather than a stand-alone company; I believe such a scenario would perpetuate their problems:

-North Atlantic trade violations for unfair subsides; lawsuits into perpetuity.
-Continued financial irresponsibility.
-Not being fully in touch with the market. (If recent history is any indication).

I am not suggesting it, I am simply stating that it seems that the direction Europe and the US are headed is in fact very confrontational, and those fair trade policies aren't going to be repsected, let alone worth anything in the future. Again, you can't measure Airbuses success anymore by financial outcomes - trade issues and financial results are becoming less important. If anything, the prooducts airbus is buiding are more intouch with the needs of European society, not necessarily those of the US businesses. The world is fracturing.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineMaersk737 From Denmark, joined Feb 2004, 717 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2166 times:

Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 13):
Further, I believe that government support and launch aid (I know this is flame bait) blinded the Europeans with a hubris to put tremendous effort and resources into the 380 when I think they should have realised it would be a niche A/C. I believe it's also why they had so many misses with earlier 350 designs. You can't run a profatable company by a committee that has too much easy money avaiable to them.

You could have a point  Wink I would say that the same goes for companies, who's getting fat on lucrative military contracts  Wink

Quoting SSTsomeday (Reply 13):
I don't think so. I believe giving priority to "splitting management and work forces between two countries and keeping everybody happy" rather than "the bottom line" cannot be the most productive, efficient or profitable way to run Airbus.

I don't know if you are right here, other companies in the industry, are splitting up workforces, and have started to fly in components from different countries.

Cheers

Peter



I'm not proud to be a Viking, just thankfull
User currently offlinePar13del From Bahamas, joined exactly 9 years ago today! , 7626 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2116 times:

I may not say it as emphatically as other poster's but when it comes to Airbus, I think the main sentiment is that if it ani't broke, don't fix it, and yes there is disagreement all over EADS, Airbus, the various EU Govts. and the workers as to whether anything is broken. Power8 is probably going to be Power 8 to the minus infinity, bookmark what they said it is, what they want it to be, and take a look in the next year or two and see how it looks, watered down come to mind.

Cloudboy raises some good political points, probably needs to carry it further. The notion that Airbus does not build a/c for the American market can also be stated that Airbus knows that many airlines will not buy Boeing products becasue they are American, so they in effect have a captive market, could Boeing have survived the A380 and A350 issues that Airbus is presently going through, if there is any hiccup with the B787 lets see how many jump ship.

Fortunately / unfortunately - depending on your side of the fence - a lot of American business houses are not as "nationalistic" as their Govt., they still look at products first rather than the politics of the purchases, don't think anyone noticies or even cares, others will do whats in their best interest, even if that means placing jobs over the profitabliity of the company, besides, figures such as those can be "fudged" in so many ways.


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2069 times:

Quoting SeJoWa (Reply 3):
On the other hand, Airbus' order books are so full that it couldn't be a better time to go for Power8 and live with distant returns, except that the French unions are soon going to be running amok (I do think the German unions might be a smidgeon more amenable to business logic).

Therein lies the irony. The unions might well argue that this strong order book/backlog argues against divesting plants and cutting jobs. This could make this part of Power 8 implementation significantly more difficult than it would have been before the show.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently offlineSSTsomeday From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 1276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 1926 times:

Quoting Maersk737 (Reply 15):
I don't know if you are right here, other companies in the industry, are splitting up workforces, and have started to fly in components from different countries.

Yes, but those are decisions based on what is most productive and finacially prudent for the company (in Boeing's case), and not based on extenuating political considerations unrelated to building A/C which would cause the company (Airbus) to be less efficiant, and erode its bottom line.



I come in peace
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31387 posts, RR: 85
Reply 19, posted (7 years 5 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1901 times:
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Quoting Lumberton (Reply 17):
Therein lies the irony. The unions might well argue that this strong order book/backlog argues against divesting plants and cutting jobs. This could make this part of Power 8 implementation significantly more difficult than it would have been before the show.

I would hope Gallois would use the order book as a sign that airlines believe Airbus will implement the painful changes necessary to become a leaner and more efficient competitor to Boeing. Many of those new orders and commitments have delivery dates many years into the future. If airlines feel Airbus is not taking the necessary measures, those orders could wind up being canceled and going to Boeing and then the unions could be in an even worse state...


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