flying1When a flock of AAPA members and some guests flew down to Toulouse to meet senior executives at Europe’s commercial aircraft company, Airbus, little did they know they were creating history: it was the first time your association had taken to the air for a field trip. At a time when Airbus and its parent company EADS were making front-page news, the timing couldn’t have been better, and the event created news – lots of it – as well as history. The day started with a presentation of Airbus’s double-decker A380 superjumbo (below) that will make its maiden flight early next year. To give us a taste of what travel on a 555-seater aircraft will be like, we were walked through an A380 cabin mock-up (left).

Noel ForgeardChief marketing officer John Leahy gave us an overview of Airbus’s markets and products. Over lunch, Airbus’s planetalking chief executive, Noel Forgeard (right), talked about the company’s position in its spat with Boeing over program launch aid, gave his views on an eventual link-up between EADS and Thales, and hinted that he wouldn’t mind being asked to take a top management position at EADS. Some members were treated to a tour of the Airbus manufacturing facility, while others raced to file stories to their newsrooms. The French and international press coverage next day was testimony that this had indeed been a newspacked event.

David Pearson