A380 delays 'not the fault of suppliers'

8 November 2006
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08 November 2006 | Geraint John in Brussels

Airbus's delays on its A380 superjumbo are the result of "internal problems" and not the fault of its suppliers, according to a senior company executive.

Speaking to an audience of more than 200 senior procurement professionals at the ProcureCon event in Brussels today, Matthias Gramolla, vice-president of sourcing strategy at EADS - Airbus's parent company - strongly refuted recent press reports alleging that supply chain failures lay behind the embarrassing delays to its new flagship aircraft.

"The problems we are facing with the A380 are internal ones - they are homemade; our suppliers cannot be blamed," he said.

Gramolla declined to elaborate on what these internal problems were, but added that "our suppliers have helped us, and in some cases have gone beyond their contractual obligations".

But while that meant Airbus's sourcing function was not to blame either, "we are expected to be part of the solution," he said.

The company recently launched a new programme, called Power8, in direct response to the A380 problems, designed to cut costs, maximise cash flow and speed up development.

The delays have hit Airbus hard, with some launch customers demanding compensation or postponing their orders. Virgin Atlantic, for example, which was due to take delivery of its first A380 in 2008, has deferred until 2013.

Gramolla also denied reports that Airbus was seeking to slash its supply base. "Our intention is not to take any suppliers out of our supply chain," he said. "But we do want to take another look at the suppliers we work with."

EADS as a group still dealt directly with too many small firms, he said. "We want to focus more on our big key systems suppliers and give those tier-1 suppliers more responsibility to manage their supply chains."

SMnov2006

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