Headquartered in Toulouse, Airbus’s origins can be traced back more than four decades when a consortium was set up to manage the development and marketing of the Europe’s first widebodied twinjet, the 250-seat A300B.
Airbus Industrie was created as a Groupement d’Interet Economique in December 1970. Initially a 50:50 joint venture between Aerospatiale and Deutsche Airbus, the shareholders were later joined by Spain’s CASA and the UK’s British Aerospace (now BAE Systems). In parallel with the creation of EADS, in 2001 the consortium was restructured into an integrated company, with EADS holding 80% and BAE the remainder. In October 2006 BAE sold its stake to EADS for £1.9 billion leaving the latter as the single owner.
The A300B entered service in 1974 and was followed by the A310 derivative in 1983. In March 1984 Airbus launched the all-new and innovative A320 narrowbody family. The A330/A340 widebody family joined the line-up in 1987, with the four-engined A340 being the lead type entering service in 1993.
In 2000 the double-deck A380 was launched, finally giving Airbus its long-sought-after full complement of products to rival Boeing. The 525-seater entered service in 2007, by which time Airbus was developing an all-new widebody twinjet, the A350 XWB. Designed to replace the A340 and counter Boeing’s 777 and 787, the A350 is due to enter service next year.
Alongside its line-up of airliners, Airbus also offers corporate versions of its families. Its Airbus Military division is responsible for tanker derivatives and the flagship A400M Atlas military airlifter.