• Barry Eccleston Barry Eccleston
Point Of View

Le Bourget debrief

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If it’s summer in the aerospace industry, it’s air show time. Airlines, suppliers, lessors all are represented at this annual event—this year’s being held in Paris at LeBourget. We at Airbus expected a quiet year at the show and were pleasantly surprised to end with more orders than we expected (421 aircraft worth around $57 billion). None were from U.S. based customers but that doesn’t mean the Airbus Americas team wasn’t busy.

Our activity was focused around political and supplier meetings. I personally met with three U.S. state governors, three U.S. senators, one U.S. congressman and representatives from the FAA and NASA. Other members of our leadership team met with even more government delegations. In the last three to four years, as Airbus has become more visible in the U.S., we have noticed a higher participation of American government officials at the big air shows, and a greater number who want to meet with us, to find out how to bring Airbus business to their districts.

We also had the opportunity to meet with many of our U.S. based suppliers. We took the time to deliver key messages to them—one being that with a planned increase in A320 Family production rate, we need them to keep up with the growing demand while remaining on time, on quality and on budget. Of course the message is the same across all of our product lines, but with 5,181 A320 Family aircraft on backlog by the end of June (552 destined for North American customers), and the Mobile production facility coming on-line as you read this, we need their support more than ever. We spent $15.9 billion with U.S. suppliers in 2014 alone, and our intent is to grow this to $20 billion annually by 2020. That kind of growth benefits everybody involved—so their success is our success.

All of these meetings showed me that Airbus is indeed a global player, and the fact that we do have so many meetings with so many U.S. based entities shows our importance to and within the U.S. market. With the opening of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama, Airbus Americas will now mirror any service you could find in Toulouse or Hamburg—aircraft production, sales, customer support, training, spares, procurement and all of the support behind those. As a result, the people we met with wanted to talk to us as a U.S. company on par with Boeing—not a European one. It’s a great place to be.

Barry Eccleston

President – Airbus Americas