Hang about that’s an acronym for Alitalia. This has nothing to do with the Italians. But there again it IS an aeronautical story that has everything to do with failing to meet a deadline.
So the confusion could be forgiven.
No this time around it’s all about one company’s attempts to deflect attention from what is turning out to be a four-letter-word of a corruption cock-up à la Française with a triumphal tale of achievement!
The four letters are EADS. And the success story is the delivery of the first Airbus 380 - just 18 months behind schedule.
The A380 is the superjumbo set to take to the skies and revolutionise flying comfort – if we’re to believe the blurb. Change in the sense that it can carry over 850 passengers (if airlines decide to cram us all merrily into economy class) allowing us to relax more easily while we increase our collective carbon footprints.
France has a huge financial stake in the future of the A380 and the media here clearly decided that the Nation needed a morale booster when Singapore Airlines officially took delivery of the first of its 19 new ‘planes two weeks ago – just one and a half years later than promised. So what better way than trumpeting what France does best…..apart from striking of course…..corruption…..no sorry, that should read technological BIGness.
And we’re talking BIG here with more than a flourish of luxury.
The new giant of the skies will make its first passenger flight on Oct. 25. And Singapore Airlines has opted for a 471-sear version of the monster double decker. First class travellers will apparently be able to cut themselves off entirely from the rest of the world in their private “suites” while Business customers will have all the U.S.B. ports and in-seat power supplies for laptop computers the price of a ticket can buy. Even those in Economy will be able to swing their legs in more room than there is available for the proverbial cat.
Take off should come as something of a relief to all those concerned in the design and construction of the A380, which has been beset by persistent and costly delays, but there lurks a darker story in the background.
Airbus may well have delivered – and continue to do so at the rate of up to 45 a year by 2010 – but top managers at its parent company, EADS, are being investigated for insider trading.
Major shareholders in the Franco-German corporation sold massively just before news was released of significant delivery delays on the A380 back in 2006.
That news of course wiped billions of euros off the market value of EADS. The loss was a major blow to the taxpayer (the state holds a 7.5 per cent stake in the company) and a setback for Airbus.
An investigation may well be underway here in France, but so far everyone is denying everything and admitting to nothing. What a surprise.
The (now former) boss claims he didn’t pass on any information. The government was not informed. And nobody used prior knowledge for personal gain because everyone is innocent.
Meanwhile media attention has switched to the glories of French technology because apparently the two stories, although related, are not linked.
Once again French business practice flies high as it breathes new meaning into the term corporate responsibility and there will doubtless be plenty of under carpet sweeping before any truth is revealed – if it ever is.
Ussat-les-Bains – Avenue de la Gare - Another postcard from the small village of Ussat-les-Bains in the Ariège department of France. I have already posted one postcard of the village and mo...