Airbus spins off commercial aircraft unit into a separate entity with Scherer at helm

Christian Scherer will step into his new position as CEO of Airbus Commercial Aircraft on January 1 as part of major leadership restructuring

Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, south of France. The plane maker is carving out its commercial aircraft business as a separate entity. AP
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European plane maker Airbus is spinning off its commercial aircraft unit into a separate entity and has appointed its chief of sales Christian Scherer as chief executive of the unit.

Mr Scherer will step into his new position at the helm of the Airbus commercial aircraft unit on January 1 and will oversee a new management team of eight executives, the world's largest plane maker said in a statement.

These include head of engineering Sabine Klauke, head of programmes and services Philippe Mhun, and head of operations Florent Massou.

Benoît de Saint-Exupéry was appointed head of sales and Thomas Hundt as head of finance.

Positions for general counsel, communications and human resources were also filled and further appointments will be made at a later date.

"Our customers, partners and stakeholders expect total commitment from Airbus to deliver on the ambitions and operational objectives of our commercial aircraft business. I’m excited to assemble a team of talented and recognised leaders at such a critical time for our industry,” Mr Scherer said.

Mr Scherer's career at Airbus spans nearly four decades. He started at the company in 1984 when he joined as a commercial contracts manager, climbing the ranks over the years and getting promoted in September 2018 to his current position of chief commercial officer.

He was also one of the main proponents for the launch of Airbus' upgraded A320 Neo, which went on to become its most successful programme.

Establishing a separate commercial aircraft business will allow Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury to focus on the company's broader strategy, its other units and its sustainability agenda after four years of doubling up as the boss of the core planemaking unit.

Splitting the unit is also a reversal of the system under the previous Airbus group chief executive Tom Enders, who had headed both the group and the commercial aircraft division until 2019.

Mr Enders’ successor, Mr Faury, has held both positions since he took the company's helm in April 2019.

The move to establish a separate business unit for commercial jets also comes as Airbus grapples with industrywide supply chain issues and aircraft delivery delays.

"Looking at our key priorities, we want to put the company in the right configuration for the future,” Mr Faury said.

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From January, Mr Faury will lead a new team that includes Bruno Even as chief of Airbus Helicopters, Alberto Gutierrez as head of Special Industrial Projects, Julie Kitcher as chief sustainability officer and communications, Ms Klauke as chief technology officer and Mr Scherer as head of commercial aircraft.

Mike Schoellhorn is head of Airbus Defence and Space, Thomas Toepfer is chief financial officer, Jeff Knittel is head of Airbus Americas, Matthieu Louvot as hear of strategy, Wouter van Wersch as head of international operations and George Xu as head of Airbus China.

The global aviation industry has been grappling with continuing disruptions in its supply chain since the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in rising costs, delivery delays and production snags.

Airbus's first-half net profit fell 20 per cent year on year to €1.5 billion. This is despite revenue for the period rising 11 per cent to €27.7 billion, as the Toulouse-based company delivered 316 commercial aircraft.

In June, Airbus raised its 20-year forecast for new aircraft deliveries as airline customers grow their fleet to meet soaring travel demand and replace older jets with more fuel-efficient models to reduce their emissions.

In the same month, Airbus hired more than half of the 13,000 new employees it plans to add in 2023, despite an aviation labour shortage globally, as plane makers seek to ramp up their production to meet higher demand for aircraft.

Updated: October 13, 2023, 6:04 AM