Airbus’ John Leahy is famous for his witty one-liners, but the best one at the show goes to Boeing’s Randy Tinseth. As we were waiting for the Boeing press briefing to begin on Day 1, we remarked how dirty the Airbus A380 test plane was. A regular at air shows, the plane was parked right outside the media center. It clearly hadn’t been scrubbed down for looks, with dirt streaks all over the fuselage. The logos of the A380 customers at the front of the airplane were equally covered in dirt. It stood in sharp contrast to the new Boeing 787 parked just yards away from the A380, in its shiney white paint.
Said Tinseth, virtually giggling: “They don’t wash it because they’re afraid one of the logos will come off,” suggesting a cancellation. “And you can quote me on that.”
We told the story to one of Airbus’ top PR people, who grudgenly acknowleged it was a great line. No slouch himself, he retorted the 787 was so clean because it hasn’t flown much.
Speaking of one-liners
It was a joyous occasion: Steve Hazy, former CEO of ILFC, was back. He, John Plueger (also previously of ILFC), Airbus CEO Tom Enders and the aforementioned Leahy had a standing-room only crowd to announce Hazy’s order for 51 Airbus A320s/321s to launch his new Air Lease Corp. The announcement was to be followed by executing the contracts in front of the international journalists.
Hazy made the announcement and started to open the press conference. Leahy leaned around Enders, who was sitting between them and said, “Hey, can we sign the papers first?” to the laughter of the entire room.
Thanks for the tour; I still like my Mom best
Airbus CEO Tom Enders was treated to a tour of the Boeing 787 by Boeing executives Jim McNerney and Jim Albaugh. It’s a courtesy extended by one rival to another, as did Airbus when the A380 made its first air show appearance.
Airbus puts its airliners through the paces to provide flying performances, which are pretty impressive since the planes maneuver in ways passengers hope they never would when they are on board. Boeing doesn’t like to put its airplanes in the air, saying the displays aren’t worth the potential risk.
In this context, Enders couldn’t help but provide a good-natured jab to Boeing’s ribs.
“We bring our planes to air shows to fly. Boeing brings theirs to shows to park.”
Those Germans have a great sense of humor.
We’ll be cleared by WTO: Boeing
Here’s a story we prepared for Commercial Aviation Online:
Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, declared that the company will be cleared of allegations of receiving illegal subsidies when the World Trade Organization issues its Interim Report in September (or whenever).
Albaugh made the rather startling prediction during the press briefing Monday at the Farnborough Air Show. Previous Boeing statements, Airbus and its parent, EADS, European officials and even some Boeing supporters in Congress indicated that some violations were expected to be found.
“We don’t think they will find we violated WTO rules,” Albaugh said to a packed briefing room. He hastily added, “But if they do, we will remedy them.”
Write what I say, not what you think I mean
When Boeing’s Scott Fancher revealed, on the Thursday preceding Farnborough, that the first delivery of the 787 could slip into 2011, we asked him was that the first quarter or second quarter or what? Fancher replied, rather ambiguously, that any slippage would be measured in weeks, not months.
(It was later pointed out to us that, in the true Presidential Definition of “that depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” weeks could pretty much mean anything.)
During the Boeing press briefing on Day 1, Andrea Rothman of Bloomberg News took a stab at it and asked Albaugh whether the slippage was Q1 or Q2. Albaugh barely contained himself to disabuse us all of this one:
“First quarter, first month. Don’t write anything else,” he said in a clipped style, but with a pixi-ish smile.
You’re never satisfied
After a long draught in orders for the A380, Airbus landed 32 of them at the Berlin Air Show from Emirates Airlines. At the Airbus wrap-up press conference Thursday at Farnborough, a reporter asked would there be any more this year. Leahy feigned indignation and said, “What–32 isn’t enough?”
Leahy hopes for one more new customer this year for the giant airplane.