Newspaper article International New York Times

Airbus to Restructure Military Unit

Newspaper article International New York Times

Airbus to Restructure Military Unit

Article excerpt

Delays in delivery of the A400M cargo plane have prompted a restructuring of the division and a change in leadership.

Faced with mounting criticism from European governments over production problems with its newest military transport plane, the Airbus Group on Thursday announced a management shake-up at its military aircraft unit and promised a restructuring of the business to address what it said were "unacceptable" delivery delays.

In a statement, Airbus said that Domingo Urena-Raso, who as head of military aircraft was in charge of development of the A400M Atlas cargo plane, had resigned and would be replaced by Fernando Alonso, the group's head of flight testing.

Mr. Alonso, 58, will start in his new role on March 1, Airbus said. Until then, Bernhard Gerwert, chief executive of the group's defense and space division, will serve as acting military aircraft chief.

The switch comes just months after Airbus acknowledged that production snags with the plane had pushed back deliveries to some European militaries, including those of Germany, France and Britain, and risked adding to the 4 billion euros, or $4.5 billion, in expenses that the group had absorbed since 2006. The A400M cost EUR 20 billion to develop.

In a speech to British government and military officials this week, Thomas Enders, the Airbus Group chief executive, apologized for the delays and vowed that there would be "organizational and management consequences."

The news comes as a number of politicians in Germany, the largest customer for the plane, have called for Airbus managers to appear before parliament to explain the delays, which they argue have damaged the reputation of the company. The German and French governments each own an 11 percent stake in Airbus.

The first A400M was delivered in 2013 to France, which now has six of the planes and has already deployed them in West Africa and in Iraq. …

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