Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cityspy

Article excerpt

MUCH backslapping in Whitehall at the way the media has lapped up the news that MI6 has appointed as a " nonexecutive director" a highflier from the private sector, charged with ensuring our spies gather secrets efficiently and effectively. Much puzzlement, too, in the City as to the new hiring's identity. Of course, it would be possible to form a better opinion as to how efficient or effective he or she will be if we knew who they were.

But no such luck - this is the secret service, after all. The idea, though, that a corporate suit will have any real influence over the spooks is absurd.

For them, it will be business as usual. The outside world will believe there's been some significant step change, because it has been told so, when there has not. The recruit will collect their fees - and doubtless a discreet gong. High fives all round!

MORE hype. Airbus is preparing to unveil its mega-jumbo A380, the world's largest commercial plane, in Toulouse next week in front of western Europe's political and corporate elite. All sorts of claims will be made for just how vital it is, how it fills a gap in the market, blah, blah. Truth is, the plane already resembles a flying white elephant (though its bloated dimensions make it look more like a giant pig). First test flights take place by the end of March and it's due to go into service next year. But will it be commercially viable? Airbus, 20% owned by BAE Systems, is well past the point of no return in the aircraft's multibillion-euro development programme but is way behind on the number of orders it needs to hit breakeven. Airbus admits it needs to sell 250, yet on the eve of the launch it still only has orders for 149 - and the last 10 of those were from UPS for cargo versions, cannibalising a previous order for 50 smaller Airbus planes. Talk from Toulouse on this embarrassing order shortfall is to wait until the Chinese airlines get their act together and then see just how many of the 500-800 seat behemoths they need. …

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