Is Airbus Management Shakeup Good News for Boeing?

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We’re about to find out if turnover at the top levels of one of the world’s largest industrial firms is a good thing or something else. Airbus CEO Tom Enders said on Thursday that he will not seek a contract extension when his current contract ends in April 2019 and commercial aircraft COO Fabrice Brégier announced that he would leave the company in February.

Brégier’s replacement already has been named. He is Guillaume Faury, head of the company’s helicopter division, who also managed the development and launch of the A350 dual-aisle passenger jet.

Airbus said it plans to consider both internal and external candidates to replace Enders and a new CEO will be named in plenty of time to be confirmed by Enders’ planned exit date.

Chief sales executive John Leahy will retire at the end of the year, following the departures of the company’s heads of engineering and strategy and the chief technology officer. According to The Wall Street Journal, other top executives are also nearing retirement and the company has no clear succession plan in place.

This much turmoil could be good news for Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) where CEO Dennis Muilenburg has a couple of years of CEO experience behind him now and his own team in place, including defense division chief Leann Caret, commercial division CEO Kevin McAllister, and services head Stan Deal.

Airbus is facing corruption and other charges in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Allegations include bribes and failure to disclose mandated information on the use of third-party contractors to win commercial and military business. Enders himself is among Airbus officials being investigated in Austria related to a combat jet deal that happened more than 10 years ago.

On the plus side, Airbus has an enormous backlog and has been winning its share of business in head-to-head competition with Boeing, especially in the dual-aisle sector. Its biggest business issue is getting suppliers to meet delivery schedules so that Airbus can keep its own promises. These will bee among Faury’s biggest headaches when he takes over in February.