Airbus Confirms Spirit AeroSystems Talks, Motivation To Buy

By Spyros Georgilidakis | April 12, 2024

The Airbus CEO confirmed that the company may indeed buy some parts of Spirit AeroSystems. And if it does, it will be because of Boeing!

Spirit AeroSystems is facing more difficulties lately. The FAA probe into 737 production and quality is impacting the aerostructures supplier, who makes the entire fuselage of the 737. But more directly, Boeing’s 737 production slowdown is also forcing Spirit to limit its own production, and with it overtime and hiring of new workers.

Airbus Confirms Spirit AeroSystems Talks, Motivation To Buy
Photo: Spirit AeroSystems

Meanwhile, Airbus has its own financial woes – albeit not at anything like the same scale as Boeing or Spirit. The European manufacturer is negotiating a new contract with the machinists’ and workers’ union in Montreal, Canada, at its primary A220 assembly site.

At the same time, Airbus has been keeping a close eye on Boeing and its intentions on Spirit AeroSystems. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury explained in an interview that the company didn’t expect Boeing to consider purchasing its supplier.

Airbus Confirms Spirit AeroSystems Talks, Motivation To Buy
Airbus A220. Photo: Air France

Indeed, Boeing had previously stated that it wouldn’t (or couldn’t) buy Spirit. As we have seen, the MAX-9 blowout last January seems to have changed this, with Boeing eager to show that it can increase its production oversight.

Airbus and Spirit AeroSystems Plants

As for Airbus, Spirit is supplying several key parts, including the wing of the A220. Spirit makes it in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a facility that also makes aerostructures for other aircraft manufacturers.

Photo: Laurent ERRERA, CC BY-SA 2.0

Faury confirmed that Airbus could indeed buy this plant, along with a facility in Kinston, North Carolina, where key composite parts of the A350 fuselage and wing are made. However, the Airbus CEO stopped short of saying that these purchases would definitely go ahead.

The issue with these Spirit facilities is that they are strategic for Airbus. And the European manufacturer doesn’t like being unsure about the future owners of these sites. “There are not many companies in the world that could be good owners for these activities”, said the Airbus CEO.

Airbus Confirms Spirit AeroSystems Talks, Motivation To Buy
Photo: Daniel Shapiro

In general, Airbus tends to keep its major aerostructures production sites in-house. But the dilemma, specifically with the Kinston and Belfast sites, is that they are not profitable as things stand today. If Airbus buys the two Spirit sites, it would need to invest heavily in both of them.

If a third party were to buy either of them Airbus would have a say, confirmed Faury. But there are also considerations on intellectual property, as well as financial information about the production cost of parts that Airbus doesn’t want Boeing (for example) to be privy to.

So, Airbus may indeed buy some facilities that currently belong to Spirit AeroSystems. But if it does, it will be because of Boeing’s actions. However, Airbus wouldn’t want to add too much financial burden on itself, to “facilitate” Boeing’s efforts to sort itself out.


Leave the first comment