"For Airbus, 2021 was a year of recovery, of transition, of pioneering": This is how an image film summarizes the past year. "People started flying again in greater numbers. Aviation reminded the world what it had been missing." French CEO Guillaume Faury and German CFO Dominik Asam are sitting opposite one another at a white, oversized conference table in the shape of an A at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse. "Recovery" is the word of the hour.
Profits justify dividends for shareholders
Faury comes up with a good result. "2021 was a truly remarkable year. Our results are strong, reflecting higher commercial aircraft deliveries, the strong performance of our helicopter, space and defense businesses, and our efforts to control costs and remain competitive." That's why the top management is proposing a dividend payment: "And that's 1.50 euros per share."
611 machines were delivered. Eight percent more than in the previous year. And the new Airbus A350 cargo plane is already being celebrated on the market, according to Faury. His German CFO Asam gives figures: "We can report a record net profit of 4.2 billion euros for 2021. And our free, positive cash flow is 3.5 billion euros."
Europe's largest aircraft manufacturer is thus back in the black, and the crisis in the industry as a result of the corona-related slump in air traffic seems to be over. In 2020, the group had therefore recorded a loss of 1.1 billion euros. In 2019, billions in fines to stop corruption investigations sent Airbus into the red.
6000 new jobs "just the beginning"
As many as 720 commercial aircraft are to be handed over for this year. According to Faury, this week's Singapore Airshow showed the industry's appetite. In 2022 he is focusing on investments and growth – but not only: "First and foremost, we continue to rely on our workforce, which is the key to success for our upswing and our future," said the Airbus boss. "That's why we're also looking for new talent and have announced that we'll be advertising about 6,000 positions worldwide. And that's just the beginning."
In this context, Faury confirmed his plans for the German locations, where there should be no redundancies by 2030. The North Rhine-Westphalian car supplier Mubea could take over locations, but all others remain with the parent company.
"On July 1, we will start the new company, similar to the one that we set up in France with Airbus Atlantic from January 1," explains Faury. "It will include the German plants that are already assembling aircraft fuselages. As far as the supplier locations are concerned, we are continuing to consult with Mubea and IG Metall on what is best. And we still need a few months for that."
Armament orders are also an issue
The annual press conference also deals with the paint damage dispute with Qatar Airways. According to the Airbus boss, you are not happy about the situation – and you could see that. In response to a high claim for damages, Airbus had canceled an order worth billions from the airline. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in London at the end of April.
A topic that the Airbus boss repeatedly addresses himself: the positioning of his group in the military sector. "In 2021 we also worked on projects that are critical to Europe's strategic autonomy," said Faury. "For example, the euro drone project. All partner nations have agreed to finance it, including Italy, France, Spain and Germany. This clears the way for the signing of the contract."
Defense, according to Faury, means peace – and that in turn enables innovation and climate protection. With orders for six new Galileo satellites and a hydrogen aircraft for 2035 on the horizon.