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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Franco-German dispute hits Airbus
Thomas Enders (left) and Noel Forgeard
Noel Forgeard (right) is said to wish to continue as head of Airbus
A Franco-German spat is believed to have prevented Airbus plane maker EADS from naming two new chiefs on schedule.

The European firm was expected to promote Frenchman Noel Forgeard and German Thomas Enders to the post of joint chief executives on Wednesday.

But it was delayed after Mr Forgeard reportedly wanted to hold onto his current role as Airbus chief as well as take up the new job.

That scenario was publicly opposed by EADS' German shareholders.

"That's a solution I can rule out," Manfred Bischoff, German joint chairman of EADS, was reported as saying in the German press.

Ongoing discussions

The corporate structure at European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company is such that it always has two chief executives and two chairmen.

The set up allows the roles to be shared equally between France and Germany - its main shareholders.

It is right we take our time so that we don't make wrong decisions
EADS co-chairman Manfred Bischoff

Mr Bischoff and his French counterpart Arnaud Lagardere will now also fill the vacant chief executive roles at the aerospace and defence group until a decision is made.

Mr Lagardere was in favour of Mr Forgeard also continuing to head Airbus - as was the French government, which owns 15% of EADS.

EADS hopes to have the matter resolved by 1 June, a spokesman for the group said.

Explaining away the delay, Mr Bischoff said: "We are striving to find the best solutions in a complicated situation.

"It is right we take our time so that we don't make wrong decisions."

Until the matter is resolved, Mr Forgeard will continue to lead Airbus, while Mr Enders will stay on in the top position at EADS' defence subsidiary.


It remains unclear who will replace them in their current roles, if and when their move to the top jobs at EADS is confirmed.

Aerospace analysts say the uncertainty could be damaging for Airbus and its ongoing competition with US rival Boeing.

Airbus recently carried out the successful first flight of its A380 twin-deck super-jumbo, which can carry more than 800 passengers.

It believes the giant plane is the future of air travel, in contrast to Boeing which is focusing its efforts on its new mid-size Dreamliner jet.

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