Oct. 3, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Airbus confirmed Friday the news reports from Bloomberg and Reuters that a major organizational restructuring of the company is underway.
The Wall Street Journal had this report Friday.
Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders is leading the reorganization. Airbus Commercial CEO Fabrice Bregier becomes president of the Group and president of Airbus Commercial. Other top-level changes, including at 50% owned ATR, the turbo-prop manufacturer, leaked out during the week.
As yet, nothing has been reported about the potential retirement of John Leahy, COO-Customers. Leahy turned 66 in August. It’s always been
assumed he won’t leave Airbus until he’s carried out feet-first. He enjoys the hunt for new sales and he thrives on the competition “with my friends in Seattle.” Update: I missed this article from Reuters in which his deputy, Kiran Rao, is the likely successor.
But following an appearance as the featured speaker at the September Wings Club meeting, Leahy for the first time publicly waffled about his future. This begs the question, of course, who might succeed Leahy. So far, nothing has leaked about this.
Reaction from the aerospace analyst community so far has been muted, because the full scope of the reorganization hasn’t been disclosed. But Raymond James’ UK analyst, Harry Breach, in a quick note Friday wrote that the reorganization is “A (Positive) restructuring by Any Other Name.”
Breach has a Strong Buy on Airbus. He wrote:
Airbus’ restructuring announced this morning, whilst unquantified, is both an incremental step in the path to normalisation of corporate governance, and a potentially useful cost-saving contribution to offset likely increasing losses on the A380 programme as deliveries decline (we estimate a broad range of €64-645m, depending on the scope of real estate and personnel change). As such, it supports our confidence in Airbus’ earnings outlook and in our Strong Buy recommendation on Airbus Group shares.
Airbus announced that it is to step- up integration by merging its Airbus Commercial Aircraft division into Airbus Group via the creation of a new entity, in order to reduce corporate structures, to simplify governance, to eliminate duplication and to create unspecified other efficiencies. This augments a transformation programme launched in July 2016 that is focused on digitalisation of processes and tools. Mr. Fabrice Brégier, the current CEO of Airbus Commercial Aircraft, is to become the Chief Operating Officer of the group, and President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft. Further details, including any cost savings, were not disclosed, and Airbus stated that these details are now subject to discussions with social partners.
Breach forecasts that eliminating costs will amount to a savings of 0.1% to 1% of equivalent revenue. This equals €64m to €645m.
Breach goes on to note that this will be needed as the A380 program costs increase during the production rate reductions through 2018. Airbus is going to 20/yr next year and 12/yr in 2018. Officials already said rate 12 is a loss-making rate.
The A400M continues to be a financial drain. Airbus also faces customer compensation demands for late deliveries of the A320neo and A350 XWB. Both are bedeviled by supplier issues, the former with Pratt & Whitney engines and the latter with Zodiac interiors. It’s not known on the outside how these compensation issues might be split between Airbus and the suppliers.
Separately, Goldman Sachs issued a long research note Friday unrelated to the reorganization, entitled, “State of the aerospace OE duopoly: The case for Airbus over Boeing.”
Goldman has a Buy on Airbus and a Sell on Boeing. Noah Poponak is the US analyst and Chris Hallam is the UK analyst.
LNC reported Poponak’s Sell opinions on Boeing frequently (his notes are often included in our weekly analyst synopsis.) LNC doesn’t often see European-based research notes on Airbus. Accordingly, I’ll focus on Goldman’s views on Airbus today.
“In our view, today is a rare time where one’s product set (Airbus) is meaningfully stronger that the other’s (Boeing.) We think significant market share shifts could occur, without a pricing response from Boeing. And we think Boeing may need to invest significantly in multiple new aircraft, over time,” Goldman writes.
Airbus leads in the single-aisle market share backlog, with particular strength from its sales lead with the A321neo over the 737-9. Competition between the A330ceo/neo and 787 is about even, with low fuel prices making the cheaper A330 an attractive option to the more expensive 787.
Only in the A350-1000 vs 777-300ER does Boeing hold a commanding lead. Airbus doesn’t have a competitor to the 777-9, and Goldman believes Airbus will launch the A350-2000 (or -8000, depending on any given day the name comes up) to challenge the -9.
The A380 and 747-8 are niche products, with the latter on its way out and the former just hanging on.
Boeing is a Free Cash Flow (FCF) story these days. Airbus trails, but Goldman predicts its FCF could quadruple. It predicts FCF will fall by 30% at Boeing.
One reason Goldman believes the Airbus FCF will increase is that it thinks Airbus will hike the pricing on the A321neo, given its overwhelming lead over the 737-9. A potential 737-10 “would not change the dynamic too much,” Goldman writes.
Goldman predicts Boeing will launch a Middle of the Market aircraft by the end of the decade, with an entry-into-service date of 2024-25. (LNC believes the launch will come as soon as next year or 2018.) Goldman thinks the A321neo and the A330neo will be sufficient for Airbus to cover the MOM sector, and won’t have to launch a competing new design.
I do wonder about the a350-1000 v 777-9 debate. The 777-9 is 45-50 tonnes heavier with 300-400nm less range than the a350-1000. The 777-9 must have one heck of a wing and engines to cover those differences.
The market for the a350-1000/777X will mature as existing very large aircraft grow old and traffic growth means that airlines will need to upsize. We will see who wins
I think few people are worried about the A350-1000, only if they want to be.
– It is building on the proven A350-900.
– It will be way lighter and more efficient than the 777s.
– though absolute backlog is medior, the customer list is far more impressive than 777X
– many -900 customers included rights to move up to -1000s, and even said they will likely. Candidates: AF/KL, AA, DL, SQ, LH, CA. Plus new opportunities: KE, QF, EK.
On the MoM, I feel Airbus will respond. The A330 is no MoM. 500-1000 additional airframe sales easily vs doing nothing.
They’ll have the people, money, platform and customers at the right moment.
IMO an optimized light medium wing for either an A322 or light A330-700 NEO.
Airbus is now managed more or less like Boeing. It took them more than 40 years to make Airbus a “normal” company. With the unification of all the devisions under one man and one name we can now call it One Airbus. But this would have nothing to do with One Boeing, which is all about reducing costs. Both initiatives come at a critical time because the signal is strong that the party is over and it’s time to sober up. The two exercises are actually efforts to make Boeing and Airbus stronger in a weakening environment. I think the timing is perfect for both of them because even though the market is softening considerably the backlogs remain huge with a total of more than 10,000 aircraft booked between them. And as those orders will gradually melt away both companies should be in a stronger position, industrially speaking, when the market will have recovered. However, from a commercial standpoint the Big Two have profoundly different prospects ahead of them.
I was surprised by the severity with which the analysts panned the Boeing lineup. Sure with core winners in the MAX 8 and the 789 and the 779 there is some comfort there going forward.
The key area of weakness for Boeing is IMHO is the loss of the 773 going forward. Many airlines appear to be replacing their WB fleet with same size or smaller aircraft going forward and the A359/351 seem to be perfectly placed to match capacity or offer a slightly reduced capacity with a considerably more efficient platform.
Scott: Is your view a change that the MOM is not viable? If I have it right that was the last statement on it, Boeing can’t make it for what they need to price wise.
Or is it Boeing is going ahead anyway and it will not work financially ?
I have to pat myself on the back, A321 pricing going up as it should. Per the 747 in its heyday and the 777 series, with no real competition get what you can out of it.
I think there is some issues in the A330NEO. Its sales have not been stellar and one of the big customers is Air Asia and they are known for kicking orders down the runway so they don’t have to pick up on them (and they are forming a leasing divisions to deal with all those A320 series they have on order and can’t use, that simply competes with other leasing companies not adding any totals)
The current fuel prices don’t drive anyone to buy an incrementally updated aircraft (A330NEO) and a lot of A330/767 coming into the market that are viable with low fuel prices (and winglets on the 767s)
Boeing grabbed the backlog of renewal orders in the A330 area with the 787 and the -10 is another factor as well. Boeing is also is in position to offer delivery slots sooner and with the current A350 issue (they keep saying Zodiak, but there were major changes after Airframe 17 and those look to have halted momentum, Zodiak was masking the problem but as that’s resolved its still stagnating deliveries.
So maybe not as easy as everyone thought?
Life cycle costs are a factor, 787 supposedly is better in that regard, that should be added into the mix that they are not looking at up front but I would think an Airlines and leasing companies do.
Clearly any minimal 737-10 is not going to impact the A321. It will help current 737 operators that don’t want to add another type to the fleet, but only a major 737-10X would challenge that and at 8 billions that’s a total waste.
Clearly in the Single Aisle Boeing is lame and late and behind. The 737Max orders look rosy until you break down the 737 max is a lot more costly revamp than the A320NEO and the pricing is a dog fight so the return is not nearly as good.
Still very interested in what AK Airlines does with its A321 NEOs.
@TW: I’ve felt all along Boeing should do a MOM aircraft because its product gap is pretty obvious, but the business case (ie, cost vs price) remains the big challenge. Others in the industry agree. I’m not sure yet Boeing has closed the business case.
Scott, does closing the business case mean a plan that Boeing’s board will approve?
@Russell: If BCA “closes the business case” then yes, I think the BOD will approve.
You truly have a point. 6 A350 deliveries in August, 4 in September. Still Zodiak’s problems? Where is the ramping up?
Not sure about that, the join and final assembly and rework times are progressively falling. There seem to be a lot of aircraft on parking stands after that point which suggests that cabin fit is still the key issue. Further they have 3 near complete aircraft handed back by Sri Lankan that the lessor has to place and the ongoing saga of Qatar aircraft which lag the production and testing of all others by a sizeable margin AAB has run out of cash). They also have the three test A351s coming through with first flight this month.
Up to 26 for the year to date, with about 10 on the flight line and a final push in December we could high forties. So probably lagging the recent target of 50 and considerably below the 60s touted last year.
“A transformation programme launched in July 2016 that is focused on digitalisation of processes and tools.”
– I am surprised that this was not accomplished before, especially in the context of the A380’s early production debacle, which was caused by serious deficiencies in the “digitalization process”.
“The A400M continues to be a financial drain.”
– Airbus is in a similar situation to Boeing with the KC-46. Lately military programmes have not been very profitable for commercial aircraft manufacturers, including Embraer.
“Goldman has a Buy on Airbus and a Sell on Boeing.”
– I am floored! That Goldman would raise doubts about Boeing’s prospects is not a surprise for me because I agree most of the time with what they say. But frankly I did not expect a sell on Boeing coming from any Wall Street analyst. Where it really hurts is that the sell on Boeing is preceded by a buy on Airbus. When I read that I thought the world had stopped turning for a minute or two, until I recovered my senses. I am still in shock.
“In our view, today is a rare time where one’s product set (Airbus) is meaningfully stronger that the other’s (Boeing.)”
– I recall LNC making a similar comment. It is obvious to me that Boeing’s portfolio has not been well thought-out over the years. Management was obviously too busy trying to please shareholders while at the same time deploying maximum effort to displease employees. This infamous period was preceded by total chaos at Boeing after the MD take over. If I go that far back in time it is for the simple reason that a portfolio has to be managed over a very long period of time. It’s what we call long-term strategy. But Boeing is only good at applying short-term tactic. Especially if it is of a deceitful nature.
“We think Boeing may need to invest significantly in multiple new aircraft, over time.”
– This should be Boeing’s number one priority. And I believe it is to a certain extent. But unfortunately there are people very well placed in this company that are more preoccupied by their personal benefits than the long-term interests of the company. Others inside Boeing have a vision for the future but their ideas are offhandedly discarded because they do not serve the immediate interests of the shareholders.
“Goldman predicts Boeing will launch a Middle of the Market aircraft by the end of the decade, with an entry-into-service date of 2024-25. (LNC believes the launch will come as soon as next year or 2018.)”
The MoM is an interesting market segment that is not particularly well served presently. Unfortunately this segment does not fit well in Boeing’s portfolio. It is too close to the 787 at the top and the NSA at the bottom. Anyway, this is not a favourable time for Boeing to launch multiple programmes simultaneously. Choices will have to be maid and the MoM should not be a priority. But we have been repeatedly told in recent months that it is going to be Boeing’s next big undertaking. I don’t be believe that. The board will never approve such a foolish project. First the revenues will decline in the coming years. Additionally, commercial aviation is not doing very well at the moment and I see no valid reasons why the situation might improve in the near future. Moreover, the MoM would sit right on top on the NSA. The problem I see there is that the two projects would overlap. This would force the engineers to design a bigger MoM whose smallest variant would not impede on the NSA’s biggest variant. What this means is that the MoM wold have to be bigger and therefore too close to the 787 to justify spending billions of dollars on it. For all those reasons I don’t believe Boeing will ever undertake the MoM.
Goldman put a Sell on Boeing last year. Buckingham Research was the first (in current times) to put a Sell on the company but has since raised to Neutral.
I have only been following analysts since LNC has started to regularly post their comments. Which by the way I greatly appreciate. I now have a better opinion of them. Some are actually quite sharp.
True, some are awfully bad though as well, obviously they do not contract to LNC!
Frankly I trhink it boils down to its a cat and dog fight up in the wide aisles.
Airbus has some advantages and Boeing has some.
In the single aisle at great cost Boeing is barely holding its own against the A320, and getting bashed over the head by the A321.
Max 10 only makes the pain less, it does not go away.
I would not buy Boeing stock as they have given away the seed corn. They are in for a rough road.
If they can make it work out cost wise, they will launch the MOM and its not an issue as its tyep0 of development work is offset form the 777X .
The shareholders may scream, but they have had free lunch for along time and its time they paid. Or start folding the doors.
I see nothing contrary to the MOM position, its far from a 787-8, let alone the soon to be far more numerous 9
I also is a solid slot above any single aisle, the A321 packed seating at 240 is it (and 220 is more realistic and Boeing seating drops as well using real seating vs possible)
I don’t see the KC46 and the A400 as remotely analogous.
A400 started as a commercial project that then got caught up in military politic with each country wanting its own boutique setup (and particularly the Germans with there mandate to haul heavy armor around that they should have bought C17s for)
Boeing will get up on step with the KC46 and do fine long term. Its more stupid they suffered what they did (but then its a think bench at Boeing these days) . Its a basic conversion, the A400 is an all new tech and engines rife with issue
Boeing seems to have good production people still so KC46 ramp up should be a non issue. They are doing a good job on the P8 and its the template they used for converting the 767 to a tanker (and vastly more complex systems)
I would not buy Airbus either by the way. I see its drags offsetting its gains.
Regarding Boeings lineup I do have a question regarding the future competitiveness of the 777x. We know from analysis from Bjørn that the 777-9 will have a very favourable, probably slightly better fuel consumption per seat mile compared with the 787 and the 350. And if I have understood this right it is because of an exelent wing with a very large span and high aspect ratio, and engines at least a half generation newer than the 787/350.
But, what happens to the 777-9 seat mile fuel consumption in comparison the 787/350 when these planes get reengined in say about 2025? I have also never been able to understand how Boeing could maneuver itself into a position where their newest and largest major aircraft derivative got an aluminum fuselage whereas one older and smaller aircraft got an all composite fuselage. Composite scales exelent with size, so if any fuselage of a major derivative should be an aluminum one it should NOT be the largest one that was made out of aluminum.
I have said it before, I think the 777x is a very risky project with a real possibility for becoming a comercial and financial failure.
I am not having the 747 in mind here. I regard that plane as in its final years before discontinuation.
Whether the 777x is a commercial failure is a moot point but I do see the A350-1100/2000/8000 as being extremely attractive either as a minimal change, fuselage stretch, hold galley/restrooms, lower capability offering or as an all singing all dancing bigger folding wing, engine upgrade variant.
Given the moribund state of the WB market Airbus have the luxury of waiting for the dust to settle as the ME3 orders have already gone.
“lower capability offering or as an all singing all dancing bigger folding wing, engine upgrade variant.”
I’ll bet you any money it will be the former rather than the latter. They would basically do a 787-10 on it, that is if they do it at all. I don’t believe they would do it unless they NEO it as there’s literally no more trust to be squeezed from the XWB’s. There’s a reason the GE9X’s are so big and there is certainly room for a 777-10X in there.
You are probably correct, at least in the next 10 years
“But, what happens to the 777-9 seat mile fuel consumption in comparison the 787/350 when these planes get reengined in say about 2025?”
I do think there will be re-engined A359 and A35K’s with ultrafan engines but that’s not plain sailing for Rolls. It’s a very ambitious engine. If they get it right, it will surely be a good distance ahead of the GE9X. It’s very challenging in that it will feature variable pitch fan blades, and a planetary gear system similar to that used by PW Pure Power, for a very high bypass ratio. Assuming they get there, it will be unquestionably the most advanced engine in the world I reckon. It’s a big push by RR and I don’t doubt them to put pressure on GE with it.
“I have also never been able to understand how Boeing could maneuver itself into a position where their newest and largest major aircraft derivative got an aluminum fuselage whereas one older and smaller aircraft got an all composite fuselage. Composite scales exelent with size, so if any fuselage of a major derivative should be an aluminum one it should NOT be the largest one that was made out of aluminum.”
I’d say the 787 was how they manoeuvred themselves into that one. Once bitten twice shy! Boeing were never going to go all in with the 777X as they did with the 787. Aluminium does the job of carbon composite for the most part with improving technology to make hollowed out 3D printed aluminium parts from atomised aluminium dust. There seems to be some idea that CFC will take over from existing materials but there are no immediate signs that that’s the case. Metal can be recycled too. The technology to make aluminium parts is always improving. There is plenty of research into new alloys and production techniques. I think Boeing will come to employ the less is more mantra in the coming years as they understand that’s what’s needed to compete with Airbus, and prevent them from taking extra market share. And let’s not be quick to blame Boeing if the 777X doesn’t pay off as much as hoped. The price of oil and many other global economic factors come into play. I for one can’t wait to see both A330 NEO and the 777X take to the skies. In particular I can’t wait to see the GE9X.
Keesje: “On the MoM, I feel Airbus will respond. The A330 is no MoM. 500-1000 additional airframe sales easily vs doing nothing.”
How did we come to have this MoM problem? I think it all started when Boeing chose as a 767 replacement to make a long range aircraft: the 787. It was understood at the time that the 787-3 would address the requirement for a medium-range MoM, but Boeing failed to come up with an acceptable offer. Airbus had a similar problem with the A350-800. Now we have a void, and since nature abhors a vacuum the Big Two are trying to fix their mistakes, starting with Boeing. But I don’t think Airbus will do anything to change the situation, especially since they are already committed to the A330neo. And the A321neo is so successful that what little gap is remaining is not worth the trouble. Unless of course Boeing came up with a superior design that would make everything else in that segment obsolete overnight. But don’t worry, this is not going to happen. Not because Boeing is not capable to accomplish such a feat. Au contraire, I believe they could rattle the market if they decide to put the time and effort. But this would require advanced technologies that are very expensive to implement. Such an undertaking also entails a sizeable amount of risks, and Boeing has no more margin left for risk. Moreover, they have already made a commitment to not spend too much money on the MoM because the customers don’t want to pay much more for a MoM than what they already have to pay for an A321neo. I think this was quite clear from the start and that’s why I never believed Boeing would do it. This is the main factor against the MoM. But I have also discussed several others in a previous post above. When we put it all together we have to come to the following conclusion: There is no business case for the MoM.
Isn’t the MOM a “nice to have” but not essential product.
It can never be built at an acceptable price, and airlines will continue to do what they do now which is use a larger plane less frequently or a smaller plane more often.
Living in Manila it is very noticeable how many A330 and now 787’s ply the regional routes on 1- 4 hour flights.
Until it disappeared Cathay regularly used a 747 on the Hong Kong- Manila trip, and PAL and Cebu use the A330 between Cebu and Manila.
“Isn’t the MOM a “nice to have” but not essential product.”
These are exactly the words I used here about three weeks ago. See last paragraph of my long post dated September 12, 2016.
No plagiarism intended.
Great minds think alike! 🙂
I think half the minds on this forum agree with you both. & half disagree for good reasons. I’d love to see them build towards the concept SUGAR Volt, and the NMA market would certainly be the logical market. I’d like to see a half-way house next – build a high aspect ratio wing 797.
Quote dated September 12, 2016:
The MoM remains for me a would-be-nice-to-have airplane. Nice to have but not absolutely necessary and to be avoided at all costs by Boeing, because this once great company may very well disappear into the hole it is trying to plug.
The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into Airbus.
I wonder what the implications are for Airbus leadership.
Do any of the Airbus experts who follow this site know who at Airbus has ultimate responsibility for the hiring of foreign sales consultants?
Here is the correct link:
My understanding is that this is a continuation of a previous enquiry that had been launched earlier this year. Last time I saw a similar case in commercial aviation was back in the 70s when Lockheed were trying too hard to find buyers for the L-1011, a superlative aircraft. The government came down real hard on them when the scandal was uncovered. Ironically it was the same government that later on came to the rescue of Lockheed which was now technically bankrupted, thanks in part to the government sanctions. Bribery had become a routine operation at Lockheed, and once this means was taken away from them they found out they didn’t know how to sell an airplane to a customer. That’s all Airbus was waiting for, and the rest is history.
sowerbob: “Given the moribund state of the WB market Airbus have the luxury of waiting for the dust to settle.”
This is a very meaningful comment that summarizes the present situation. At this critical juncture Airbus is about to complete the formidable A350-1000 and is just starting on the promising A330neo. Both are low-risk enterprises and no other projects will be required for the foreseeable future, except perhaps for an A380 re-engine later on. But that is not going to happen until Rolls-Royce starts producing the UltraFan around 2025. So Airbus should have a smooth landing if the situation continues to deteriorate.
The situation is very different at Boeing. For the 777-9 development is only the beginning of a long cycle of new investments that will be required in the coming years. After the 777-9 it will be the 777-8. And if we are to believe the rumours, the MoM will quickly follow. It may actually precede the development of the 777-8 because according to LNC the MoM might be launched as early as next year. In addition to this Boeing will have to replace the 737. And this may become a necessity much earlier than Boeing had anticipated. If they expected to have to replace the 737 as early as I think they should they would not even discuss the MoM and would already be hard at work on the NSA.
All this is coming in quick succession in the next few years. Do the math with me: 777-9 + 777-8 + MoM + NSA = 50 Billion dollars of investments over a very short period of time. All this at a time when commercial aviation is entering a slump. Did I mention the ongoing share-buyback programme and the 787 forward lost? And don’t count on the military division or the space division to supply all the cash that will be be needed. This will have to come from the 737 backlog only. Enjoy it will it lasts.
@ Stenar Norheim
“I have also never been able to understand how Boeing could maneuver itself into a position where their newest and largest major aircraft derivative got an aluminum fuselage whereas one older and smaller aircraft got an all composite fuselage.”
Boeing faced three choices in regard to the 777 fuselage: retain the same, go to Al-Li, change for CFRP. The latter option, when added to the composite wings, would call for a clean-sheet design, and that would have been prohibitively expensive. Even converting a conventional aluminium fuselage to Al-Li is a big proposition. If Boeing decided against it I am sure they had a good reason. For sure it would have saved weight, but was it worth the extra cost of Al-Li and its associated recertification, and would the customers be willing to pay more for the aircraft? These are very difficult decisions to make.
Boeing bet that the extra seats offered by the 777X would make it highly attractive and would put in a class by itself. That remains indisputable today. But the problem is that one can have a slightly smaller all-carbon airplane that offers similar economics. Unless an airline can make good use of all this extra capacity, the A350-1000 is a safer bet. That being said, if passenger demand keeps going up and airlines continue to be profitable the 777X could succeed. But that is a risky proposition and in this case the risk is proportional to the size of the aircraft. Ask Airbus.
Unfortunately for Boeing and its Fabulous Machine the widebody market is slowing down dramatically at the moment. Hopefully it will pick up more speed again before this great asset turns into a liability.
Forget the MoM, forget the restructuring….
I simply cannot fathom Airbus without John Leahy-who happens to be a personal hero of mine (and my wide posterior with his 18″ seating standards ;-p)
It just won’t be the same-I wonder how the stock will do on news of his retirement even if Rao is his successor.