Airbus officially confirmed Guillaume Faury as CEO at its annual shareholder assembly April 10. Faury succeeds CEO Tom Enders who retired after seven years in the position.

René Obermann plans to succeed Denis Ranque as chairman of the Airbus board of directors in 2020, completing the European group’s leadership transition.

The rearranging means a French CEO will in the future be controlled by a German chairman, another sign that balance between the two countries inside Airbus is still an important issue. Both Germany and France own around 11% of the stock but have limited say in strategic decisions. Obermann has formerly ran Deutsche Telekom as CEO and has been a member of the Airbus board since April 2018.

At the meeting, Faury pledged “consistency in the equity story and strategy.” His focus will be on “program execution, continuous improvement and digitization,” he said. “Pivotal change” has been driven by Enders and CFO Harald Wilhelm, he pointed out.

Faury, 51, has been running the commercial aircraft division as president since early 2018, succeeding Fabrice Brégier who left Airbus after having been told that he would not succeed Enders this year.

Faury reiterated Airbus’ earlier guidance for 880-890 deliveries in 2019 and a 15% increase in adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT adjusted).

Enders told shareholders that in Faury Airbus had found “the right man with all the right values and skills. I left him a few challenges, otherwise it would be too boring.”

Among them are ongoing investigations in Airbus’ compliance investigation around the use of middlemen in past commercial aircraft sales campaigns. Airbus also is nearing decision on the launch of the A321XLR, a longer-range version of the A321neo that is targeting the same market as Boeing’s proposed new mid-market airplane (NMA).

Bigger picture, Airbus has no near-term large-scale civil development programs upcoming, which provides profit upside. On the other hand, Airbus is highly reliant on the sales success of the A320 and A350 families.

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.com