Odds and Ends: Bombardier lands Delta’s RJ deal; 787 events in perspective; Airbus/China; Enders victory

Delta Air Lines: Bombardier, in a welcome development, landed a major order with Delta for 40+30 CRJ900s, beating out Embraer’s E-Jet proposal. Delta has a large, installed base of CRJs and EMB wasn’t too optimistic, in management-analysts meetings last week, according to research notes. But BBD liked its odds, considering the CRJ is more fuel efficient than the E-Jet (being a small airplane), even if the E-Jet is far more comfortable.

For BBD, the order is important for two reasons. First, the CRJ backlog is shrinking. Deliveries begin 2H2013, and this illustrates the point. Second, with BBD sucking up cash in advance of CSeries first flight in 1H2013, the deposits, progress payments and delivery payments are welcome, indeed.

The next face-off between the two OEMs is American Airlines, where both have large installed RJ fleets of aging aircraft.

Boeing 787 events: Airworthiness Directive. “Emergency” landing. AirInsight puts things into perspective.

Airbus lands China orders: Hmm. EU suspends plans to impose ETS tax. Airbus lands orders for 60 A320s and 10 A330s. What do you make of that…

Enders now 1-1, sort of: Tom Enders, CEO of EADS, lost his bid to acquire BAE Systems due to German government interference. The merger would have reduced government meddling, balanced EADS commercial and military business, put EADS on a more equal footing with Boeing and positioned EADS better for US DOD contract bids. But Enders has now won a corporate governance restructuring that ends government meddling in daily operations. He still hasn’t achieved his other goals, but this one is so huge that we rate Enders’ won-lost record 1-1.

Odds and Ends: Cargolux, Qatar to split; P-8A and MAX; More on Sequestration; Dodging that depth charge

Cargolux, Qatar Airways to split: Several news stories report that Qatar Airways is going to dump its 35% stake in Cargolux. The stories indicate a disagreement in the direction of Cargolux. This story is the most detailed, although it’s now a month old  and out-of-date.

The day before the news broke last week, we were told that Qatar wanted to set up a Cargolux hub in Doha and decline more deliveries of Boeing 747-8Fs to Cargolux in favor of using Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777Fs. This tracks similarly with the month-old story linked above. Cargolux has eight 748Fs on order.

There is a general softness in global air cargo traffic that is causing some cargo airlines to consider deferring 748Fs as well, complicating Cargolux’s viability.

We were also told there are sharp personality differences between the Qatar and Cargolux board members that aggravated relations between the two companies.

P-8A and MAX: Bloomberg has this story that looks at an angle about the Boeing 737 MAX that hasn’t been discussed before: Boeing will stick with the NG-based P-8A Poseidon and not shift to the MAX.

Sequestration: We had a recent think piece on how sequestration might not be a bad thing in the long run because it would force the Pentagon to truly re-think its global defense strategy. This piece in Defense News, an authoritative trade publication, picks up a similar theme.

Dodging that depth charge: EADS wanted to merge with BAE Systems. BAE is the prime contractor of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet. Read this story about the HMS Astute. EADS may well have dodged that bullet–er, depth charge.

EADS-BAE merger off; government interference, key shareholder kill it

The EADS-BAE Systems merger is off, killed by a combination of government interference and a key BAE shareholder who opposed it. Read here and here and here.

We favored the merger as a way to get the French and Germans out of EADS’ knickers. The British government also meddled in the affair, for its concern about the diminished role of BAE post-merger. BAE is a top UK employer and defense contractor.

Flight Global published a list of the Top 100 aerospace companies in the world. Boeing is #1, EADS #2 and BAE #15. A PDF is here Top 100 Aerospace Companies, avoiding Flight’s annoying new Flight Global Club nonsense.

Odds and Ends: A350 launch aid; strike at Bombardier biz jets; Embraer demand off; EADS-BAE

A350 Launch Aid: The US Trade Rep says it has the documents outlining $4.5bn in launch aid for the Airbus A350, according to a Reuters story. Predictably, Boeing and the USTR have gone in to overdrive. The A350 was excluded by the WTO from the long-running trade dispute because it wasn’t included in the original complaint filed in 2004–which is kind of obvious since the program didn’t surface until 2006. But Airbus contends that launch aid wasn’t ruled illegal in the WTO findings, just how it was implemented. Airbus contends that any launch aid for the A350 is structured in compliance with the WTO rulings of the 2004 case. The US contends launch aid itself is illegal. Whether it is or it isn’t, we don’t like launch aid or any other form of corporate welfare (see Boeing 787) and we don’t think a solvent company like Airbus (or Boeing) should be getting any.

Bombardier strike at Lear Jet unit: Machinists voted to strike at Bombardier’s Lear Jet unit. BBD hardly needs this. With cash flow demands peaking as the CSeries development enters the final stretch, and with demand for regional airliners off, this is an unneeded headache.

Embraer Demand: Wall Street analysts were pretty unhappy following the Embraer investors day last week. EMB gave no signs of willingness to cut production next year. There are 100 slots and only about 75 orders, with few in sight. Backlog is shrinking. EMB is hoping to land big orders from either Delta Air Lines or American Airlines for the E-Jet, but we’re not aware of any Delta campaign (and in any event, the airline favored the CSeries in the aborted campaign of a year ago). American is in such disarray there is no telling when, or if, it will pursue an order.

EADS-BAE: Bernstein Research doesn’t think this merger should happen. The excerpt from a note issued today:

We believe that it would be best for both companies if this proposed merger does not happen. But, we see the merger as worse for EADS than for BAE. Both companies describe scale as an advantage (e.g. better leverage of R&D), but we have never seen scale in itself as an advantage. Specific issues are:

- Shareholder interests. EADS shareholders typically own the stock as a play on commercial aircraft OE growth through Airbus. Increasing the scale of defense assets, with some in particularly challenging markets, is likely to take some investors out of the stock. We find BAE Systems shareholders as generally focusing on the high dividend. The combination with EADS, which does not pay a high dividend, places the current BAE Systems dividend level at risk in 2014. The disclosure of merger discussions also raises questions about the sustainability of cash flow and the divided, as we have found investors questioning why BAE would accept the EADS offer if its cash outlook were robust. BAE Systems CEO Ian King has countered this by stating (with EADS CEO Tom Enders) that this deal is “borne out of opportunity, not necessity”.

- Synergy potential. We view the potential synergies between EADS and BAE Systems as low given very little overlap between their businesses and restrictions in technology transfer from US programs. From an EADS standpoint, we expect that this combination would result in a stronger international marketing organization, provide some limited cost savings in indirect personnel and sourcing, and provide some improvement for the defense electronics portion of EADS’ Cassidian business (only about 2 billion euros in revenue). But, given the limitations in capturing these synergies and their relatively small size, we do not see them as justifying a merger of this scale. For EADS, this is particularly true, since it would pay a premium for BAE shares and be buying into some particularly difficult market exposure (e.g. US Army equipment, defense IT/services). In addition, we see disruption as inevitable in a deal of this size, as it could lead to a loss of some key personnel, changes in government relationships, and problematic integration steps (e.g. IT Systems), even though the overlap is relatively small.

Odds and Ends: 787-9 progress but Qatar blast Boeing; EADS; Airbus

Boeing 787-9 progress: Aviation Week has this article detailing progress in the 787-9 program.

Qatar blasts Boeing: In what should come as absolutely no surprise, Qatar’s vocal CEO took his displeasure with Boeing public, blasting the company for late deliveries of the 787-8. Qatar’s first 787 was supposed to be handed over in August but has not for undisclosed reasons. Flight Global has this interview with Al-Baker, which dates from about a year ago.

Boosting the take-off: Airbus is looking at assist for take-offs to allow for shorter runways. This is not a new concept. This Google images page show lots of variations in Jet Assisted Take Off, many dating to piston days. We remember seeing a photo elsewhere of a Braniff Airways DC-4 or DC-6 using JATO for La Paz, Bolivia’s, high altitude airport but couldn’t fine one on Google.

EADS-BAE merger trouble: Government interference could tank the merger, Reuters reports.

Odds and Ends: EADS faces unhappiness over BAE merger; EU rejects US WTO compliance claims; SPEEA Update

EADS unhappiness: In the weeks after the merger with BAE Systems was announced, it’s clear that the proposed merger with EADS hasn’t ben well received by shareholders or the EADS governments. This Reuters story details the reluctance from the German government. Even the head of BAE has been quoted saying the union won’t proceed if BAE’s US defense business is jeopardized. Boeing, after initially saying it sees no impact, now wants a full US defense review and plans to undertake its own evaluation. Some suggest Boeing will try and bring the WTO subsidies issue into the case.

Our take is that Boeing’s initial reaction was based on the largely non-competitive defense lines of BAE and EADS but belatedly realized the strength the combined companies would have to be future competitors across from Boeing’s lines.

But the larger issue seems to be the future role of the French and German governments in the new company. Their shares will be diluted and governance influence will eliminated under the proposed merger. The government influence has historically meant Airbus, the dominate EADS subsidiary, has had to carefully split jobs between France and Germany rather than being free to make commercial decisions without political considerations.

As readers know, we have advocated for years that the governments need to get out of Airbus’ hair.

The Washington Post has this story, aptly characterizing the “blood fued” between Airbus and Boeing.

WTO Claims: It’s absolutely no surprise that the European Union rejected claims by the US it is now in compliance with the WTO ruling that Boeing received illegal subsidies. The tit-for-tat continues.

Airbus issued this statement today:

The WTO final verdict had called in March for: 

  • Withdrawal of “at least $5.3 billion” of federal subsidies already received by Boeing.
  • Elimination of an additional $2 billion in illegal state and local subsidies due in the future under existing illegal schemes.
  • Termination of all U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and NASA research grants to Boeing, including funding, Boeing use of government facilities and the illegal transfer of IP rights to Boeing

The EU’s requested 12 Bn annual penalty is justified by the WTO panel confirmation that the effect of the subsidies is significantly larger than their face value in light of their “particularly pervasive” nature.  For example, according to the WTO, Boeing would not have been able to launch the 787 without illegal subsidies.  Today’s request belies Boeing’s argument that the WTO’s findings will have no relevant consequences for Boeing. 

SPEEA Update: Seattle Times has this update on the SPEEA-Boeing situation.

Odds and Ends: FT on BAE-EADS; Boeing-SPEEA dispute getting ugly; Arik Air

BAE-EADS: The Financial Times of London has this analysis, from the British perspective, of the proposed merger between BAE Systems and EADS. Bloomberg News has this analytical piece. And when the merger was announced, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney didn’t have objections. Now he says the merger needs scrutiny. Seems to us he woke up to the long-term potential impact of a strengthened EADS in future competitions for US DOD contracts, including the next round of tankers–the KC-Y. Here is a report of McNerney’s original reaction.

Boeing-SPEEA: The contract dispute between Boeing and SPEEA is getting uglier by the day. SPEEA has outright accused Boeing of lying over terms and/or negotiating tactics. If you follow SPEEA on Twitter, you can see the vitriol increasing almost by the hour.

Boeing, for its part, spent the summer confining discussions to only one topic at a time, rejecting SPEEA contract offers, then dropped a full offer on SPEEA only a couple of weeks before a contract vote was to commence–then expressed bewilderment at SPEEA negotiators sending the contract for a vote with a “no” recommendation. We see some parallels in Boeing’s approach to those it followed with the disastrous 2008 IAM 751 negotiations. We think the contract will be rejected by a comfortable margin.

Nigeria’s Arik Air: The airline ceased domestic operations. The airline has eight Boeing 737s, two 747-8Is and seven 787s on order.

Odds and Ends: Status of KC-46A; US Airways without AA; CSeries timeline

KC-46A: Aviation Week has this article on the current status of the Boeing KC-46A tanker and the management challenges. AvWeek also reports what we did earlier: the tanker gets nailed in sequestration. We have the specifications sheet here: KC46 Tanker Specifications.

US Airways without American: In case this merger doesn’t happen, US Airways is looking ahead, according to this Aviation Week article.

CSeries timeline: Aviation Week has this piece about the Bombardier CSeries timeline for first flight and EIS, comparing it with the Q400 and CRJ700 programs, which were both late.

BAE-EADS: EADS CEO Tom Enders calls this a perfect fit. The Financial Times has this story. Free registration may be required.

Odds and Ends: More on EADS-BAE; surviving crashes

EADS-BAE: NOW that a few days have passed since the announcement BAE and EADS want to combine, here’s some more worldwide press:

Reuters: Government demands could make or break deal.

Interactive Investor: Merger will advance EADS military goals.

Mobile Press Register: Merger will advance Gulf Coast aerospace cluster.

London Daily Post: Defence worried about UK security.

International Business Times: US access key to merger.

Surviving crashes: A crash test of a Boeing 727 in Mexico drew snickers from some quarters, but the test concluded it’s safer to sit in the rear of the airplane than in the front. No kidding, and this is not new; this has been known in aviation for decades. But we actually like the response of Ted Baker, the founder and long-time CEO of National Airlines in the US (he sold out around 1961). When asked by a reporter where the safest place to sit in a plane in the event of a crash, the blunt Baker replied, “flat on your ass.” And you didn’t need a crash test to figure this one out.

Shrinking UAV market: Once thought to be one of the bright spots in a shrinking defense budget, Boeing now says the drone market will decline despite moves to increase civilian use.

BAE Systems is growth opportunity for EADS

Update, Sept. 13: Here are some stories from today:

Bloomberg: EADS move seen by Boeing as growth; Revives decade-old plan; and this update about the rankings:

BAE is the ninth biggest vendor to the U.S. government, with $7.3 billion in direct, or prime, contracts in the year that ended Sept. 30, according to a Bloomberg Government study ranking the top 200 contractors. EADS ranks No. 100, with $684 million in awards.

Reuters: US approval seen likely.

AOL: Big deal in Europe, not so much US.

Mobile (AL) Press-Register: EADS-BAE in merger talks, with a spin on local impact.

Original Post:

The prospective combination of BAE Systems and EADS is a growth opportunity for EADS, particularly in the US, where it has been striving for years to expand its defense footprint.

BAE Systems in 2009 was the Defense Department’s #5 of the Top 10 defense contractors. At that time 50% of BAE’s business was in the US. We have checked more recent figures. EADS North America, during the KC-X tanker competition, did about $1bn worth of business with the US government, in defense, Homeland Security and other contracts. We don’t believe this has appreciably changed in the 18 months since the tanker contract was awarded to Boeing.

Although the immediate reaction among observers and media is that the combination will make a strong competitor to Boeing, in fact BAE Systems services defense segments that are more closely aligned with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman than with Boeing. There is also little if any overlap between BAE and EADS, whether here or in Europe and the UK, where BAE is headquartered.

BAE has about 40,000 employees in the US.

The combination, which has to be approved by the boards of both companies as well as a host of governments on both sides of the Atlantic, will certainly strengthen EADS and its argument that it is a substantial contributor to the US economy and US employment. Airbus, a wholly owned subsidiary that accounts for around 80% of EADS revenues, purchases $12bn in goods and services in the US and says it employs or supports 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly.

BAE, which owned 20% of Airbus until EADS bought these shares in 2006, isn’t a current supplier to Airbus. Although defense cuts in Europe and the US are limiting growth at this time, these come in cycles and BAE would strategically position EADS to grow its defense business and reduce reliance on Airbus revenues and financial performance.

The new company will be 40% owned by BAE shareholders and 60% owned by EADS shareholders. The current shareholdings in EADS of the German and French governments, presently 15% each, would almost certainly be diluted. (The German EADS shareholdings are currently indirect but may become direct. The French shareholdings are direct.)

The new company would be listed on several European exchanges, including BAE’s listing on the UK stock market.