Leahy may leave Airbus next year

This is too good to hold for our Odds-and-Ends Monday. Aviation Week reports John Leahy may leave Airbus next year.

Update, Feb. 13: The link is dead but here is the relevant portion of the article; the cached version is here:

EADS Faces Deep, Difficult Transition

Feb 11, 2011

By Robert Wall
London and Frankfurt
European aerospace giant EADS faces the prospect of another turbulent transition period, with extensive personnel changes and a possible realignment of its share­holding structure. 

The personnel upheaval could be even greater than what was already expected. Airbus’s long-serving sales chief, John Leahy, says he may depart the company next year in addition to the anticipated leadership transition at the top of EADS and Airbus.

Leahy, currently the chief operating officer for customers, has been one of the constants at the organization, even when other managers were reshuffled. During the last major period of turbulence at EADS and Airbus, in 2006, when A380 problems led to the ouster of EADS CEO Noel Forgeard and the aircraft-making unit suffered the departure of two CEOs—Gustav Humbert and, 100 days later, Christian Streiff—Leahy is credited with managing relations with customers.

What’s more, Leahy’s deep connections with airline customers have led him to serve as a sounding board for Airbus about the health of the business. That role came into particularly sharp focus in 2007 and 2008, when Airbus and Boeing were confronting a global recession and trying to gauge the impact on deliveries and production rates. Even as outside analysts and leasing companies spoke of the necessity for deep cuts, Leahy urged moderation. Reality proved him right, but he bristles at overly negative forecasts made by analysts—who, he feels, created uncertainty throughout the industrial supply chain.

The question of who may eventually succeed Leahy has long been an issue of speculation within Airbus and the wider airframer community, not least because of the American’s sometimes controversial persona. One often-named candidate is Nico Buchholz, who heads Lufthansa’s corporate fleet. Buchholz is a former Airbus executive and longtime Leahy acquaintance.

Leahy’s departure will occur around the time when EADS CEO Louis Gallois’s term expires—next summer. Transition plans call for Airbus CEO Tom Enders to take over; his job would be filled by Airbus COO Fabrice Bregier. But EADS is not waiting until 2012 for the musical-chairs scenario to begin: Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling’s mandate will expire this year, although it may be extended.

8 Comments on “Leahy may leave Airbus next year

  1. John Leahy has been Airbus’s lead salesman for a long time now. He has been a formatable opponent for Boeing to deal with. But everyone retires and moves on, and apparently this is John’s time to do that. I wish him an enjoyable retirement for years to come.

  2. Airbus certainly owe John Leahy a debt of gratitude. Not least for sticking with them as the company almost self destructed a few years back.

  3. John has done the job he is paid to do, and he has done it very well. I respect hard work. Just because I am a Boeing supporter does not mean I don’t respect John for putting Airbus on the map. Under his sales expertise and leadership, Airbus has gone from a 30% market share (more or less) to a 50% market share, give or take a few percent each year.

  4. Any idea why AW retracted the article?
    Google doesn’t find any recent rumors either beyond
    the AW echo .

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