But Faury adds coronavirus’s impact was “a hell of a challenge for everyone but we are probably emerging faster”.
He’s not just looking to Airbus’s rival in the decades-old aerospace duopoly as a competitor. China’s Comac is due to get its first jet certified soon and Faury expects the manufacturer bankrolled by the Beijing government to be a “strong player in the world in the next decade”.
It’s partly because of this he’s keen to settle the long-running WTO case between Airbus and Boeing about state subsidies worth billions over decades that have resulted in tariffs.
“I call them ‘thin subsidies’ compared to our turnover and investments. They are small compared to the way Comac is funded by public money in China.”
Faury’s argument is that if the US and EU cannot agree a deal then why should China play by WTO rules, effectively allowing Beijing to subsidise its nascent aerospace industry into becoming a world power.
Besides, he adds, transatlantic tariffs are a “lose-lose game that doesn’t make sense” when aerospace has been hammered by the pandemic.
Also on his radar is Brexit. Airbus has had a difficult relationship with the UK since the referendum, being the most vocal international company to sound the alarm about risks from Britain crashing out without a deal.
Airbus’s blunt “Brexit impact assessment” in 2018 warned of the dangers posed to the company’s 15,000 UK staff and many more in the supply chain who feed into the company’s wing-making plant in Wales, and design centre near Bristol.
A hard Brexit would mean “severe disruption and interruption of UK production, forcing Airbus to reconsider its investments in the UK, and its long-term footprint in the country”.