August 26, 2013
Credit: Airbus Military
EADS's decision to change its name to Airbus Group is more than cosmetic. The rebranding symbolically concludes more than four decades of cross-border consolidation while recognizing the formidable power of the Airbus moniker. Given the European aircraft manufacturer's modest start in 1969-70—when Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed enjoyed a robust near-monopoly worldwide—this switch in names is a remarkable achievement.
However, EADS's top executives, led by Tom Enders, had no plan to mimic Boeing, placing a civil-military portfolio under a unified name. This Airbus Group is adhering to a strictly European strategy that takes into account complex rules peculiar to its European origins. In contrast to Bill Boeing's legacy, Airbus does not refer to a founding father's name: the brand was, in essence, created by the popular press. Europe's plan to develop an innovative high-capacity, short-haul, widebody twinjet was initially christened Galion in a French feasibility study, but the media dubbed it aerobus or airbus. It later evolved into the A300B concept (300 referring to the twinjet's seat capacity, later downsized) and, without great debate or fanfare, the decision to add a capital letter was made by company insiders. The choice to run with the Airbus appellation has never been questioned over the years.
Remembering Airbus's early days, its pioneers' will to succeed and the initial skepticism that greeted the enterprise, there must be some gratification that Airbus now supersedes EADS.