Airbus appoints successor to top salesman who sold $1.7 trillion worth of aircraft

Eric Schulz succeeds John Leahy who leaves the aircraft manufacturer after selling more than 16,000 jets

(FILES) This file photo taken on June 22, 2017 shows Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Airbus Customer Services John Leahy attending a closing press conference at Le Bourget during the International Paris Air Show.
Airbus announced its biggest-ever order on November 15, 2017, signing a deal to supply 430 of its medium-range A320 family of aircraft to US investment firm Indigo Partners, at a list price of $49.5 billion (42 billion euros). "An order for 430 aircraft is remarkable," said Airbus chief operating officer, John Leahy.
 / AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT

Airbus, the world’s second largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft, appointed Eric Schulz as successor to John Leahy, the company’s top salesman who has sold more than $1.7 trillion worth of jets.

“We are glad to have Eric Schulz joining our team. He has broad international experience in the aerospace industry, a deep understanding of airline operations and aero engines as well as a proven track record in building and effectively leading organisations in complex environments,” Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus said in an e-mailed statement.

“This combination of skills and experience makes Eric the right pick to succeed John Leahy at a critical juncture of our company’s development.”

Mr Schulz, 54, will join Airbus at the end of January 2018 as executive vice president and chief of sales for the company’s commercial aircraft business and will report to Enders. Schulz joins the Toulouse-based company from Rolls-Royce where he has been serving as president of civil aerospace since January 2016. He previously held other positions at UTA, Air France, AOM, Air Liberté-British Airways, Goodrich, and EADS.

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Mr Schulz succeeds Mr Leahy, 67, who first joined Airbus 1985 and has sold more than 16,000 aircraft during his tenure. That accounts for 90 per cent of all Airbus aircraft ever sold.

“There are not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for John Leahy both on a professional and personal level,” Enders said. “No matter how hard the challenge I have never seen John give up on anything,” said Enders. “His tremendous fighting spirit and his unwavering loyalty to the Airbus flag have made him an inspiration for many, including me.”

Mr Leahy and Mr Enders attended the Dubai Airshow this month and were unable to lock in an agreement with Emirates to buy additional superjumbo A380s. Instead, the Dubai-based carrier which operates 100 doubledeckers and has another 42 on order, opted to buy 40 Boeing Dreamliner 787-10 jets in a deal valued at US$15.1 billion. Emirates wants the manufacturer to commit to a production timeline of at least a decade due to a lack of traction from other carriers for the aircraft and the absence of a secondary market for the jet.

Airbus has not been able to sell an A380 in over two years. The first double-decker to go into operation as part of Singapore Airlines’ fleet was retired in June and is destined for the scrapyard if it doesn’t find a new operator.

Mr Leahy leaves Airbus after closing the company's biggest-ever order at the Dubai Airshow, selling 430 single-aisle A320 jets US private equity firm Indigo Partners, at a list price of $49.5bn.