Airbus confirmed the departure of planemaking chief Fabrice Bregier as part of a series of board moves on Friday to clear the air over succession plans following weeks of speculation surrounding Europe's largest aerospace firm.
The move gives rival Chief Executive Tom Enders a free hand for the rest of what will now be his last term as CEO, ending in April 2019, but also casts him as a caretaker as Airbus looks for fresh blood to lead it out of a growing corruption scandal.
Confirming details reported by Reuters on Thursday, Airbus said Bregier would be replaced in February as president of the main planemaking division by fellow Frenchman Guillaume Faury, the 49-year-old chief of Airbus Helicopters who has also worked in automobiles.
German-born Enders, who had earlier this year voiced interest in staying beyond 2019, will now step down at the end of his current term, saying in a statement it was time for "fresh minds for the 2020s."
Shares in Airbus remained broadly flat.
"Fabrice ... was very popular with airlines for his rapid response and attention to details. Airbus has a big pool of talent ... and will power on with new leadership," Peter Bellew, chief operations officer at Ryanair (RYA.I) and former CEO of Malaysia Airlines, told Reuters.
Airbus officials sought to dampen speculation that Enders had a hand in his deputy's departure and presented the move as the work of an independent board.
But analysts said the push for a fresh start had curtailed the ambitions of both executives, ending a longstanding but troubled partnership at the helm of Airbus. Even so, many saw Enders as a clear winner.