Airbus supersalesman Leahy pushes back talk of retirement

Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:29pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) sales chief John Leahy, on whose watch the European planemaker has sold planes worth a trillion dollars, is set to remain in his post, pushing aside earlier talk of retirement, two people with knowledge of the decision said.

Leahy, who turned 65 in August, has told colleagues he will stay in one of aerospace's most visible and highest-paid jobs for a "few more years", they said.

An Airbus spokesman said it did not comment on rumours about individual executives.

Leahy said in June he was thinking about whether to retire after more than two decades as top Airbus salesman, during which it rose to equal and, until recently, surpass U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N: Quote) as the world's largest planemaker.

"I am 65 and I do have to decide whether I have to retire or not, but one has to worry about one's health and what you do for a living too," he told a news conference.

He was speaking after closing the Paris Airshow with a trademark deal to sell 110 planes to Hungary's Wizzair (WIZZ.L: Quote), accelerating negotiations to win the premier event rather than risk a rare defeat to Boeing on home soil.

The all-night negotiations demonstrated a winner-takes-all approach that has significantly boosted Airbus's market share and secured thousands of European jobs, but which has raised sporadic concerns among analysts over pricing and margins.

Both Airbus and Boeing have accused each other of starting price wars during Leahy's tenure.   Continued...

Airbus Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy attends the Airbus annual news conference in Colomiers, near Toulouse January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau