London: Airbus SE is preparing for another round of management shake-up, after overhauling most of its senior executive line-up.
The European plane maker is considering changes in key sales positions that report to new commercial chief Christian Scherer — including several occupied by veterans who worked under long-time sales chief John Leahy. A final decision on any changes and their timing hasn’t been made, they said.
The moves would extend a painful leadership transition further down Airbus’s ranks, two years after the Toulouse-based company disclosed irregularities in its use of middlemen to help secure lucrative aircraft contracts. CEO Tom Enders and chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm are preparing to step down in April, while Fabrice Bregier, the former head of the main jetliner business who was once viewed as the heir apparent to Enders, left the company earlier this year.
Airbus is to be run by Bregier’s replacement, former helicopters chief Guillaume Faury.
The moves being contemplated under Scherer would inject fresh blood into an operation that, along with the wider Airbus group, has been left shaken by external and internal investigations. At the same time, Airbus would lose decades of experience as it tries to keep pace with rival Boeing Co. and placate customers upset about persistent engine issues.
While Airbus has fallen behind Boeing in orders this year, both companies have amassed record order books driven by rapid passenger-travel growth. Airbus’s close to 7,400 aircraft orders will keep production lines ticking for the next nine years, giving the company a cushion to weather any sales-team disruption.
Airbus told UK and French agencies in 2016 that it had uncovered undisclosed payments to third-party agents involved in deals for hundreds of commercial aircraft. The revelations forced the leading aircraft manufacturer to revamp its top leadership, a challenge made more difficult by the ongoing probes.
The 2016 disclosures to fraud agencies thrust the company into an extended period of soul searching. Many senior roles have changed, sometimes more than once. Scherer’s predecessor, Eric Schulz, resigned nine months after joining from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc to succeed Leahy, who held the position starting in 1994.
Additional positions are under review, involving sales to customers across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the people said.