I'm in Munich today for EADS' annual results, which are a whole lot better than last year's as it turns out, and our Franco-German friends have understandably perked up no end. Our Spanish media friends are nothing like so chipper and are determinedly raining on the parade after seeing Carlos Suarez's period as head of Airbus Military end in not yet wholly explained tears.
But there's a sort of sneaking sympathy for Airbus Military, in Europe anyway, rather like there was for Eurofighter, to the effect that anyone who has to deal with four or five governments to get a project off the ground deserves a kindly ear. So the A400M's woes don't attract the same sort of kicking that the A380's do - after all, Airbus is supposed to be able to build things like A380s.
So in this seductively serene atmosphere, it's perhaps not a surprise that EADS' cerebral CEO Louis Gallois let slip that beneath that unexcitable exterior he too harbours thoughts more usually associated with buccaneering Airbus salesman John Leahy.
Running through the topline financials, Gallois mentions EADS 2008 revenues of €43
million billion of course, and then there's a micro-pause before he muses "at the present rate, it is above Boeing...". Or something very like that - it's a half-uttered, half-formed thought.
Interesting, because Gallois normally tends to say that the important thing is to be around the same size as Boeing, not number one, which I think he's previously said doesn't really matter. Leahy put it more brutally a little while back - stating without reservation that Airbus and Boeing had the best duopoly in the world and he'd like it to stay that way. Same point, differently put.
Has Gallois got a point? Well, Boeing's 2008 revenues were $60.1 billion. EADS' figure translates today into $55 billion. But of course a few months ago the dollar wasn't worth what it is today. Today a Euro gets you $1.27 dollar, but I recall it was $1.40 not very long ago which would take EADS' revenues to $60.2 billion.
Not that it matters of course. Just a bit of fun.