The air taxi startup Lilium is surprisingly replacing the company boss in the key phase for future development. As of August 1st, company co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand is to be replaced by long-time Airbus manager Klaus Roewe.

The 36-year-old Wiegand slips into the role of chief engineer and remains on the board of directors, which is headed by former Airbus boss Tom Enders. Industry experts assume that Enders wants to ensure, also because of the well-known investors, that Lilium can complete the pending approval procedures, qualification tests and the start of production without further delays.

He obviously sees this in better hands with a 57-year-old ex-Airbus manager than with the relatively young Wiegand without experience in a company with larger structures and meanwhile international activities. Enders commented on the change with the words: “Klaus Roewe has operational experience like no other in our industry.”

This ability is now also in demand at the start-up on the outskirts of Munich. It wasn’t until the beginning of April that Lilium had to admit that Wiegand’s previously announced market entry would be delayed by a year.

The approval of the electric high-speed take-off and the start of commercial operation are not expected until 2025. Due to the delays, money only comes into the till later and it has to be pre-financed. The Lilium share is also under pressure on the stock exchange.

Lilium can therefore only afford further delays with difficulty, especially since the large and also listed US competitor Joby Aviation reached another milestone just a few days ago.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved Joby as a commercial airline. According to Joby, it sees itself as an industry leader and wants to start commercial operations in 2024.

Observers have long had doubts as to whether Lilium can implement its ambitious plans within the announced deadlines. At the same time, the German start-up has recently published more and more new technology cooperations, successes in flight tests and new patents, which are intended to dispel doubts about the project.

In contrast to practically all of its competitors, Lilium relies on a unique electric jet turbine drive and not on open propellers. The Lilium models are designed to carry six passengers plus the pilot, or just four passengers in a luxury version.

It remains to be seen whether the new Lilium boss Roewe will stick to the strategy. Roewe has been at Airbus his entire professional life, closely involved in the A320 program and ultimately responsible for customer relations.

Roewe must also boost the share price again. In September 2021, Lilium went public on the US technology exchange Nasdaq via a stock exchange vehicle. At a price of initially ten dollars per share, the listing has since fallen to around 2.75 dollars and rose slightly with the news of the change in boss.

In addition to the change at the top of the board, according to WELT information, there is also a departure from the Lilium top management. The ex-Airbus manager Dirk Gebser, after all responsible for production and supply chains at Lilium, recently left the start-up after an excerpt from the commercial register. Industry circles speak of a new lucrative offer.

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