Guillaume Faury reveals his battle plan to stay ahead of Boeing

“Never waste a crisis. » The expression pleases Guillaume Faury, who willingly accepts it. Airbus CEO not listening expect a return to normal return to long-term planning with structuring decisions. On the occasion of the European manufacturer’s first investor day in four years, on September 23, it announced that it had relaunched its transformation plan Next chapter redesigned. He also took the opportunity to reaffirm some objectives.

inherited from plan Next chapter Launched in 2019, this plan largely resumes the actions already started in recent years, whether in digitization, reducing the environmental footprint or improving productivity. If commercial aircraft are at the center of the game, they are also available in the other branches of the group according to the four pillars defined by Guillaume Faury.

In front of these pillars, the head of Airbus places the products. And if he considers that he already has a “very solid” portfolio, he claims to seek to improve existing platforms with the contribution of new technologies, but also to expand his offer by developing new versions. On this second point, Guillaume Faury first mentions the programs already underway with the A321 XLR, although he acknowledges that its development has not been as fast as he would have liked.

The A220-500 makes sense

He also mentions a project still in the maturation phase: the A220-500, an extended version of the old C Series, developed by Bombardier and bought by Airbus. “You have probably heard of the A220-500. Makes a lot of sense to us, but at some point. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves on this. We still have a lot of work to do on the A220 (in its current -100 and -300 versions, editor’s note) before we get there,” explains the Airbus chief.

The news will certainly please Air France, a customer of the A220-300, and very interested in the -500. But above all, Airbus must be able to make this program profitable, which at the time cost Bombardier dearly. According to Dominik Asam, CFO of the group, the break-even point should be reached in 2025.

Freight transport should also have a good place in future developments. The figurehead will undoubtedly be the A350F, but Guillaume Faury says there is also strong demand for freighter versions of its existing A321 and A330 platforms. “We won’t do it all. We want to be very specific, but it makes sense,” he said, without specifying whether he was referring to programs to convert passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft (“P2F”) or plans for new versions in production.

Uniting the ecosystem and beyond

At the same time, Airbus continues to work on the various building blocks to reduce its carbon footprint: energy efficiency, full integration of biofuels (currently limited to a blend with at least 50% kerosene), hydrogen development… elements that are relate to Airbus, but also to the entire aviation ecosystem, one of the pillars proposed by Guillaume Faury. “This goes beyond the Airbus framework with links to do with energy, the cost of carbon, regulation, long-term goals, hydrogen…”, he judges. It therefore wants to be successful in working with as many stakeholders as possible to ensure system coherence in “the new world of aviation”, but also to be able to look beyond the world of aviation.

“It is a complex world, with an environment that changes very quickly. The acronym VUCA, Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, define very well the world in which we find ourselves. We cannot change it, but we can do everything to deal with the situation”, Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus.

Guillaume Faury takes the example of sustainable aviation fuels, the development of which he wants to accelerate considerably with integration goals of around 10% in 2030 and 40% in 2040 to reach 80% in 2050. And for him, this happens above all by energy companies, hence the need to strongly involve them. The stakes are high, the SAF should be the main lever to reduce the carbon footprint of aviation and achieve neutrality by 2050. An objective that Guillaume Faury remains convinced is possible to achieve.

Despite skepticism, Airbus continues to dream of hydrogen in aviation