Airbus is confident that the French and German plants it has spun off into two standalone companies should be in a position to link with outside partners within three to five years and start seeking work packages on rival aircraft programmes.

France's Aerolia - formerly Airbus's Meault and St Nazaire Ville plants - and Germany's Premium Aerotec, which has facilities in Nordenham, Augsburg and Varel, will produce major subassemblies for the A350. As these plants are not part of Airbus's core business it has split them into standalone divisions after plans to sell to outside investors fell through.

"We are not looking for partners now, but in three years [the divisions] will be stabilised after streamlining and lowering costs and they should then be anchored to external partners," says Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier.

He says the plan is to follow the "Spirit AeroSystems model" - the former Boeing plant in Wichita that was sold off and now operates globally and is a partner on the A350 as well as the 787. "We aim to find partners to invest and ultimately take over," says Bregier. "The companies can then look for other markets and bid for work on outside programmes in the USA or China etc."

Source: Flight International