Astrium, EADS's space division, ended 2013 on a note of triumph, with the Gaia star-mapping satellite it built for the European Space Agency enjoying a perfect Soyuz launch from the agency’s spaceport in French Guiana.
But the company – which is also prime contractor for ESA’s Ariane 5 and in-development Ariane 6 rockets – faces several months of uncertainty as EADS reorganises in a bid to boost its cost-competitiveness in the face of reduced military spending, by combining Astrium with its Cassidian defence unit into a single division, to be called Airbus Defence and Space.
Speaking to Flightglobal in French Guiana during the final hours of the Gaia countdown, Astrium’s satellites unit head, Eric Beranger, confirmed that he had targets for cost reduction, but said the numbers weren’t “public”. However, he stressed, plans are already being implemented to address cost issues: “It’s a work in progress.”
Details of EADS’s overall reorganisation plan are still being negotiated with unions, but in December EADS chief executive Tom Enders outlined measures that will include the loss of 5,800 jobs between Astrium and Cassidian, including some by compulsory redundancy.
Enders has been taking every opportunity to underscore what he sees as the urgency of EADS’s drive to rationalise its cost base. During the same 10 December briefing on the job cuts plan, he said that even Ariane 6, in development for service from about 2020 and being designed to slash launch costs, “cannot work” in the “unwieldy industrial structure” that stems from EADS’s creation in the late 1990s and early 2000s as an amalgamation of French, German, Spanish and UK national aerospace champions.