Airbus Chief: Please, No Political Intervention

Airbus Chief Executive Louis Gallois on Wednesday urged politicians not to interfere with the European aircraft maker's plans to cut 10,000 jobs and spin off or close six European plants.

"While it's normal that politicians are interested, I don't want them to interfere in the company's management," Gallois said on RTL radio.

Ahead of France's April 22-May 6 two-round presidential election, most candidates have pushed for state intervention to help rescue the company from its troubles - a weaker dollar, and a 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) profit shortfall due to the A380 superjumbo's two-year delay.

Gallois, who is also co-chief executive of Airbus parent company European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., or EADS, said there was no hurry for a capital increase, an idea that the French government has said it would support.

"At this time, EADS has a positive cash flow, but it will need, in the future, external financing," Gallois said in another interview with Le Monde newspaper. "It's up to shareholders to decide."

On Tuesday, thousands of striking Airbus workers demonstrated in the southwestern French city of Toulouse, the aircraft maker's headquarters, to protest the company's restructuring plan.

Besides the job cuts - of which 4,300 would be made in France - Airbus plans to sell or close three plants and find industrial partners to take over and upgrade three more facilities producing fuselage and wing parts. Two of the six affected sites are in France, three in Germany and one in Britain.

The French government currently owns 15 percent of EADS, while Paris-based Lagardere SCA owns 7.5 percent. Their combined stake is balanced by Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler AG, which holds 22.5 percent of voting rights in the defense group.

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