Current difficulties at Airbus will be included on the agenda of a meeting today between French president Jacques Chirac and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel is attending the seventh council of Franco-German ministers in Paris today, which will include discussions on European competitiveness in research, innovation, energy and aerospace.

A German government spokesman confirms the question of Airbus is part of the agenda, but declines to comment further on the content of the talks.

Recent developments at Airbus include the announcement of a third tranche of delays to the A380 programme, the detailing of a major restructuring initiative and the departure of chief executive Christian Streiff.

Streiff, in an interview with French daily Le Figaro on 10 October, lambasted the EADS management style and accused the company of wasteful duplication.

But Manfred Bischoff and Arnaud Lagardère, chairmen of Airbus parent EADS, hit back yesterday in a frank interview with French financial daily Les Echos.

Bischoff dismissed rumours that the board of directors had disagreed with Streiff over the Power 8 cost-cutting plan. “On the contrary, the board meeting of 29 September gave its unanimous approval. But as the shareholders had asked that it be presented as a matter of urgency, the chief financial officer [Hans Peter Ring] did not have time to approve all its aspects. That is the reason why the approval was taken to another board meeting, the following Tuesday [3 October],” he said.

“But I repeat: the board of directors came out in favour of the plan, unanimously. It hasn’t been toned down. On the contrary, we have even had discussions to find out if the proposed measures will be enough or not,” he continues.

When asked why Streiff had not been given the level of autonomy at Airbus that he wanted, Bischoff replied: “He complained about the degree of integration of Airbus into EADS. However, the board of EADS had clearly indicated its wish to have more visibility at Airbus, after the problems with the A380 that emerged last summer.

“One of the main causes of the current problems was just that: the board’s lack of visibility at Airbus. We gave up a lot of autonomy to Noël Forgeard and the result was a slip of €5 billion [$6 billion] on the A380 programme. We therefore had no intention of going back to that model. Airbus is too important an entity within the EADS group to be managed like an independent company."

Lagardère adds they had been advocating a different method of management for sometime. “We had been proposing it since last April with Thierry Breton:  we decided on it together. So, we’ve done it. I notice that the reaction of the markets seems to indicate that we’ve made the right decision.”

Airbus parent company EADS’ is 22.5%-owned by German firm DaimlerChrysler Aerospace. The French State owns 15% of EADS through SOGEPA, while France’s Lagardère owns a further 7.5%.