A growing leadership vacuum at Airbus combined with multiple management shake-ups and pressure over ongoing A320neo delivery delays is said to have prompted the European plane maker to speed up its search for a new chief executive. Several sources familiar with the matter have indicated a company insider favored to succeed the outgoing boss Tom Enders is likely to be named much sooner than Airbus’ end-year target.

The Airbus board is ready to appoint Guillaume Faury, the current president of its plane making unit as the company’s new chief executive, The Wall Street Journal reported on October 8, 2018. According to two inside sources, the announcement could come “as early as Monday” when the board gathers to discuss the company’s leadership.

Faury would replace Enders, who said back in December 2017, he would not seek a third term when his current mandate expires in 2019. In March, 2018, Airbus stated it would nominate a new CEO at the end of the year, submitting the choice to shareholders at the annual meeting in spring 2019.

An earlier report by Reuters, also mentioning two unnamed sources, had already indicated that Faury could become the new chief as early as 2018 instead of the planned end-year announcement, and that the board would be making a final decision in an upcoming November 13, 2018, meeting.

Smooth transition?

In its March 2018 statement, Airbus pledged to implement an independent selection process for Enders’ replacement – led by an internal committee and backed by external headhunters, adding that the choice of a new CEO would be made according to the company’s internal governance rules. The statement also noted that the outgoing chief would help secure a smooth transition.

The European aerospace giant made sure to highlight the board’s sole responsibility for the selection of candidates for the top job, since a change in company policies in 2013 reduced the influence of French and German governments, each owning 11% in the plane making business, Reuters explains.

Amongst both internal and external candidates considered to succeed Enders, the head of Airbus Commercial Aircraft (so-called No.2) – Faubry – has long been speculated to be the favorite. Faury, who was chief of Airbus‘ helicopter unit, had been appointed to his current position back in December 2018, following a power-struggle between Enders and Airbus‘ then No.2, former chief commercial officer and president of commercial aircraft, Fabrice Bregier.

It was this feud that saw Enders‘ plans to seek a new mandate cut short with Bregier abruptly stepping down in February 2018. Although the open practice of dividing up chairman and CEO positions according to French and German national interests had been halted several years ago, upon Bregier‘s departure, one board member had remarked he had been perceived to be a problem and was „too French“, the Financial Times quoted him as saying at the time. Bregier had long been considered to succeed German-born Enders.

And on September 13, 2018, months of uncertainty regarding Airbus’ new CEO were topped by the news that the company’s recently appointed chief commercial officer, Eric Shultz, is stepping down from his post due to “personal reasons”. Christian Scherer has taken up his position with immediate effect. It certainly seems like it is hard to fill someone else’ shoes at Airbus.

ATR confirms the resignation of Christian Scherer, the CEO of the company. The news were first announced by Airbus, as Scherer is taking up the role of CCO there.