PARIS: Frenchman Guillaume Faury takes over as CEO of European aerospace giant Airbus on Wednesday, looking to benefit from the current troubles of rival Boeing and limit potential disruption from Brexit and Donald Trump’s trade threats.
The 51-year-old will replace Tom Enders, who is stepping down after five years leading the France-based group whose 129,000 employees manufacture airliners, helicopters and satellites.
The German’s retirement package – worth 37 million euros, including pension and stocks has sparked controversy in France and a pledge from the government that it will legislate to limit huge corporate payoffs.
Faury, a married father of three, took over after a board meeting in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
He has spent most of his career in the aerospace industry, specialising in helicopters.
He started his career in the French defence ministry before joining Airbus’ helicopter division in 1998.
In 2009, he left for a four-year stint in research and development at French car group Peugeot before rejoining Airbus.
In February 2018, he became head of the civil aviation division, the company’s biggest and most high-profile, which is considered the launching pad for the groups’ top job.
Faury will inherit a financially sound, highly profitable business with an order book of 7,350 passenger planes, which would be enough to keep factories running for a decade at current production rates.
Analysts see Airbus as having an opportunity to profit from the booming airline market, particularly in Asia, and from the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX plane after two recent deadly crashes involving the popular new airliner.
But Faury will also have several tricky issues in his inbox, including handling the fallout from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, which threatens to disrupt the company’s long and complicated supply chains.
The US is another source of worry for the group after US President Trump lashed out again at the EU this week, vowing to impose fresh tariffs over subsidies to Airbus.
For more than a decade, Washington and Brussels have accused each other of unfairly subsidising Boeing and Airbus respectively and have fought repeated battles at the World Trade Organization, which polices global trade rules.
Faury will also be wary of multiple investigations in France, Britain and the United States into possible bribes paid to win contracts between 2008 and 2013 that could cause more embarrassment and lead to costly fines or prosecutions.