Airbus CEO upbeat on EADS revamp, profit growth

Mon Dec 3, 2012 4:01pm EST
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By Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer

LONDON (Reuters) - The chief executive of Airbus moved to head off any concerns about a dip in profits or political interference at the European planemaker as France and Germany edged towards a shake-up of parent group EADS on Monday.

In an interview, Fabrice Bregier told Reuters he was confident that Airbus EAD.PA would ride out what some analysts fear could be a bumpy transitional period without either sacrificing record production or seeing its profits sag.

But he conceded Airbus was set to drop behind U.S. rival Boeing in the traditional race for orders and deliveries this year, even after grabbing almost 200 new orders in November.

"We are not in a hurry," Bregier said. "We will achieve more than our target of 650 orders this year."

He said development of the A350, the Toulouse-based company's next major project, was on track after a delay of up to six months announced earlier this year. Airbus had also come to grips with problems of wing cracks on the A380 superjumbo.

Airbus expects to meet a target of delivering 30 superjumbos in 2012 as it catches up from a slowdown caused by the flaws in several components on each wing. Next year, deliveries could slip below 30 before exceeding that level in 2014, Bregier said. Airbus is sticking to a breakeven goal for the A380 by 2015.

Bregier, a former defense executive who controlled Airbus operations for six years before becoming head of the largest EADS division in June, pledged to keep a grip on efforts to deliver the company's seven-year backlog of jets as CEO.

"If we do that, we will grow year on year," he said. "We have the potential to increase the profitability year on year for the next 4-5 years."   Continued...

Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier is seen during an interview with Reuters in London, December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Simon Newman (