Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Airbus Taps New Sales Chief, as Leahy Heads for Exit: Eric Schulz, who ran Rolls-Royce’s civil aircraft engine programs, will join Airbus at the end of January

Eric Schulz speaks in front of an airplane engine while at Rolls-Royce in Dahlewitz, Germany, in June.

The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
Nov. 28, 2017 3:19 a.m. ET

LONDON—European plane maker Airbus SE is kicking off Tuesday a new era in its battle against Boeing Co., naming Eric Schulz, a top executive at engine supplier Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC, to become its​next airliner sales chief.

Mr. Schulz, 54, who ran Rolls-Royce’s civil aircraft engine programs, will join Airbus at the end of January as executive vice president for sales, marketing and contracts reporting to Chief Executive Tom Enders.

Mr. Schulz will replace industry veteran John Leahy, 67, who has been the Airbus sales boss since 1994.

During his years at Airbus, which​included a decade running sales in the U.S. before taking the top job, Mr. Leahy has become the world’s most successful plane salesman. Airbus had sold fewer than 400 planes at the time Mr. Leahy joined. Since then the company has sold ​about 17,000 more planes.

Mr. Leahy helped turn Airbus into the world’s largest plane maker when it delivered more planes than Boeing in 2003. The U.S. plane maker returned to the top spot in 2012.

Mr. Leahy will retire after a transition period, Airbus said. Mr. Enders called Mr. Leahy’s contribution to the company’s commercial aircraft business “epic.”

The hiring is the second time in recent history one of the world’s biggest plane makers has tapped an executive from one of its aircraft engine suppliers to fill a top post. Boeing Co. named Kevin McAllister in 2016 to run its commercial plane business. Mr. McAllister previously ran the aviation services for General Electric .

In his role at Rolls-Royce, Mr. Schulz oversaw engine programs powering Airbus long-range jets. Rolls-Royce also offers an engine for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Mr. Schulz takes over as sales chief at a time Airbus has amassed a huge backlog of planes ordered that remain to be built. The backlog for some plane types stretch past 2025. But the transition also comes at a difficult time. The flagship A380 superjumbo, which can seat more than 600 passengers, has sold poorly. Lack of demand has forced Airbus to lower A380 production to a level where it costs more to build the planes than it can charge.

Airbus is also embroiled in regulatory controversy from irregularities in aircraft sales. British and French authorities are investigating Airbus for its failure to disclose the use of middlemen in some plane deals. U.S. authorities are also scrutinizing the undeclared use of such third party brokers, but on military deals.

Rolls-Royce said it has already begun the search for a replacement for Mr. Schulz, who remains at the company until the end of 2017, to become new president of civil aerospace.

Rolls-Royce also said program director, Chris Young, would immediately take oversight of commercial and strategic matters for civil aerospace. That immediate change is necessary because some of Rolls-Royce’s discussions are with Airbus competitors. Rolls-Royce and other aircraft engine makers are in talks with Boeing about providing an engine for a potential new jetliner.

Original article can be found here ➤

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