PARIS --- Airbus’s coup in buying a $6 billion Canadian jetliner project for a dollar stunned investors and took the spotlight off a growing ethics row last week, but internal disarray has raised questions over how smoothly it can implement the deal.
The European planemaker secured the deal for Bombardier’s CSeries program by pledging to throw its marketing might behind the loss-making jets, just as the Airbus sales machine reels from falling sales and internal and external corruption investigations.
Chief Executive Tom Enders has urged staff to keep calm in the face of French reports describing payments to intermediaries and growing concern over fallout from the investigations.
But the mood at the group’s Toulouse offices remains grim.
“Bombardier asked for an ambulance and Airbus sent a hearse,” said one person with close ties to the company.
French media attention on the growing scandal helped to camouflage talks to buy the CSeries. Rumors circulated in late August that Enders and a colleague were visiting Paris to meet investigators. In fact, they were holding the first of several secret dinner meetings with Bombardier.
But the same affair, which first came to light in 2016, has begun to cloud sales momentum. In the first nine months of the year Airbus accounted for only 35 percent of global jet sales in its head-to-head battle with U.S. rival Boeing.
The Airbus sales operation is demoralized and in disarray, multiple aerospace and airline industry sources said, with some blaming Enders for turning the company against itself.
Two people said the situation is so tense that some employees have begun to shy away from selling in problematic countries, rather than risk being drawn into the investigation. (end of excerpt)
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