Airbus’ annual technical briefing for journalists, held this week in Toulouse, was more than usually replete with comments from senior managers addressing the lighter side of its recent difficulties.

The managers were talking about the problems the airframer has been experiencing as it rushes the delayed A380 into service and tries to convince airlines that the redesigned A350, the XWB, is better than its arch-rival the Boeing 787

Referring to the disarray at the top resulting from the A380 delay, Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier admitted “there were management reshuffles which did not seem to end. I’m pleased to have been here for six months – so that’s good news.”

Airbus chief operating officer – customers, John Leahy, agreed: “[2006] was helped along by the three different CEOs that we had during that year.”

Leahy also laughed off the A350’s multiple re-births: “Everyone was writing that we redesigned the aircraft six or seven times. We didn’t. We redesigned it three times, and that was enough.”

He also told journalists that they “might care to write a book” about how Airbus dumped its original A350 design and went back to the drawing board to find a viable competitor to the Boeing 787.