Airbus ordered to pay $99m fine in Eurofighter case

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus on February 9 said it had agreed to pay a fine of 81.25 million euros ($99 million) to end a German corruption probe into the 2003 sale of Eurofighter jets to Austria. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Airbus ordered to pay $99m fine in Eurofighter case

FRANKFURT: German prosecutors have ordered Airbus to pay 81.25 million euros ($99 million) to settle one of two investigations into alleged corruption surrounding the sale of Eurofighter combat jets to Austria in 2003, the two sides said on Friday.
The settlement includes an administrative fine of 250,000 euros and “disgorgement” — which legal experts broadly define as the recovery of ill-gotten gains — of 81 million euros.
Munich prosecutors have been investigating whether Airbus issued bribes to win the $2 billion contract: charges it denies.
In a statement, prosecutors said they had not found evidence of bribery but that Airbus had been unable to account for over 100 million euros in payments to two shell companies.
EADS, as the main Airbus parent group was known at the time, sent funds totalling a triple-digit-million euro amount to Vector Aerospace LLP and City Chambers Limited, they added.
Most of these funds, by evading internal control mechanisms, had been used for what the prosecutors said were “unclear purposes,” adding it could not be finally determined what the funds had been spent on.
Airbus said in a statement the penalty, which it had agreed to pay, related to the “negligent breach of supervisory duties” by unidentified members of Airbus Defense and Space’s former management.
The former managers failed to ensure proper controls that would have prevented payments to “business partners” without the company getting proven services in exchange.
Airbus regularly uses the term “business partners” to refer to foreign sales agents or intermediaries.
It is being investigated separately in France and Britain over the handling of agents in the sale of commercial jets.
While Friday’s settlement ends the Munich investigation, Airbus and individuals including Chief Executive Tom Enders, who headed the company’s defense business from 2000 to 2005, face an ongoing investigation in Vienna into the Eurofighter deal.
Airbus and Enders have denied wrongdoing and accused the Austrian government of playing politics with the investigation.


In airline-business rarity, Air France picks a woman CEO

In this file photo taken on March 26, 2018, Air France's Executive Vice President Customer Division Anne Rigail speaks during a press conference to announce the re-opening of direct flight between Paris and Nairobi, in Nairobi on March 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2018
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In airline-business rarity, Air France picks a woman CEO

  • As of June, there were just 18 women holding down jobs of CEO, president or managing director at airlines around the world, according to the Center for Aviation, an Australia-based airline industry research group

PARIS: When the leaders of global airlines posed for a photo in June, there were 25 men in dark suits and a lone woman in the last seat on the far right.
That could be changing, but very slowly.
Air France announced Wednesday that Anne Rigail will take over as CEO next week. Rigail, a 27-year company veteran and currently an executive vice president, will be the first woman to lead the French carrier, which was formed in 1933. Parent company Air France-KLM Group will continue to be led by a man, however.
Few women have run large airlines. Carolyn McCall was CEO of British low-cost carrier EasyJet for seven years until leaving this year to run British broadcaster ITV. Christine Ourmieres-Widener, the woman in the June photo of CEOs, leads Flybe, a European regional airline that has fewer than 100 planes.
In the United States, Air Wisconsin, a regional airline that operates United Express flights, is led by CEO Christine Deister, and another regional, Cape Air, has a female president, Linda Markham.
But no major US carrier has ever had a female CEO, and only a few women hold other top jobs. In May, JetBlue Airways named Joanna Geraghty president and chief operating officer — the No. 2 job. Tammy Romo has been chief financial officer at Southwest Airlines since 2012, succeeding another woman. Elize Eberwein is an executive vice president at American Airlines.
As of June, there were just 18 women holding down jobs of CEO, president or managing director at airlines around the world, according to the Center for Aviation, an Australia-based airline industry research group. That is unchanged from a 2010 survey.
Women in the industry have said airlines need to do more to recruit and promote women, provide better mentoring, and encourage those who take maternity leave to return to their careers.
The International Air Transport Association — that’s the group whose leaders were pictured in June — has declared gender equality a priority. The group reported in March that only 3 percent of aviation CEOs are women, compared with 12 percent in other industries.
It didn’t help, however, that the association’s new president, Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, suggested that women aren’t up to the job of running an airline.
“Of course it has to be led by a man, because it is a very challenging position,” he said at a news conference. He later apologized.
As the new CEO at Air France, Rigail will certainly have her challenges. The airline faces contentious wage negotiations with pilots and flight attendants and has been hit by a series of damaging strikes. The last CEO quit after union employees rejected his offer of small pay raises for the next four years.
In a statement issued by Air France, Rigail said she is extremely honored by the promotion. Benjamin Smith, the CEO of parent Air France-KLM Group, said Rigail has always paid special attention to employees, and he expressed confidence that the airline can meet its challenges.