The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS N.V.) is the leading European company for aeronautic, defense, and aerospace services. EADS was set up in 2000 as a public limited-liability company under Dutch law, and it came from the merger of DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Germany), Aerospatiale Matra (France), and CASA (Spain). EADS is the owner of Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer, which represents the core business of the company. EADS is also a world leader in the production of helicopters, space launch vehicles, missiles, military aircraft, satellite, defense systems, and electronics.
EADS is legally seated in Amsterdam (Netherlands), with the company’s head offices located in Germany (Ottobrunn and Munich) and France (Paris), and locations and offices distributed around five continents. On December 31, 2007, the number of employees was 116,493.
Its shareholding structure as of June 30, 2008, is as follows: Sogeade (French company formed by Lagardère and the French state) owns 25 percent of the shares, German Daimler controls 23 percent of the shares, and the Spanish state company SEPI is the owner of 5.5 percent of the capital of the company. These companies together control 53 percent of EADS, and they have established a contractual partnership in order to run the company. The 47 percent of the remaining shares represent the free float of the company. EADS is listed in the stock exchanges of the countries of origin of the main shareholders: the Paris, Frankfurt, and Madrid Stock Exchanges.
The company is structured in five divisions, each of them responsible for one business unit: Airbus, Military Transport Aircraft, Eurocopter, Defence & Security, and Astrium. The aircraft manufacturer Airbus is a fully owned subsidiary of EADS, in charge of the production of aircraft. The headquarters of the company are located in the French city of Toulouse. The history of Airbus, from its origins to today, parallels that of European economic and political integration, with moves forward, periods of stagnation, and slight backward steps.
In 1967, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a new European aircraft that was due to reduce the dependence of European airlines on American aircraft and which could eventually compete worldwide with American Boeing, who was at that time the major manufacturer able to produce commercial aircraft on a profitable and sustainable basis. The final agreement (1969) was ratified only by the French and German ministers, though it also involved the British and the Dutch. Other countries, such as Spain, entered the consortium in subsequent years.
From its early stages Airbus has striven to seize the leadership of aircraft manufacturing from American Boeing. This commercial battle has been one of the most interesting business issues in the aviation industry of last quarter of the 20th century, with success for the Europeans in the last years, although this situation could be reversed.
At present Airbus manufactures five families of aircraft: A300/A310, A320, A330/A340, A350, and the largest passenger aircraft in the world, the Airbus A380. The final launch of Airbus A380 was preceded by several delays with regard to scheduled delivery dates, which caused an increase in costs due to compensations to clients, and gave rise to a financial scandal involving top management and shareholders. These were suspicious of executing trades before the delay of the Airbus A380 was announced to the market in June 2006.
The Military Transport Aircraft division is in charge of the production of the A400M, a military air transport developed at the request of eight European NATO members. First delivery of the plane is due in 2010. Eurocopter is the world’s largest helicopter producer of both civil and military aircrafts. The Defence & Security division provides military aircraft, airborne weapons and defense systems, and electronics. Its most renowned product is the combat aircraft Eurofighter.
Astrium is the company providing space services and products, among which are the Ariane launchers, used in space transport, and the satellite navigation system, Galileo, which is destined to compete with American GPS.
According to company financial statements, the EADS group reported in 2007 a total revenue of 39,123 million euros (US$58,685 million, approximately), which was allocated among its divisions as follows: Airbus, 64 percent; Military Transport Aircraft, 3 percent; Eurocopter, 11 percent; Defence & Security, 14 percent; Astrium, 9 percent. The company in 2007 lost 33 million euros mainly due to the unfavorable euro/dollar movements, the negative impact of the revised delivery schedule for the A400M, and the costs of the new A350.
- Airbus, airbus.com (cited March 2009); EADS, www.eads.com (cited March 2009);
- Manfred Knappe, On the Wings of Time: A Chronology of EADS (Résidence-Verl, 2006).
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