Airbus Steals Rolls-Royce Executive

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Airbus has hired Eric Schulz the boss of Rolls-Royce’s civil engines division to replace John Leahy as head of commercial aircraft sales. Schulz will join Europe’s largest plane maker in January, as it struggles to continue Leahy’s legacy of record sales amidst a rebound by arch-rival Boeing.

Shares in Rolls-Royce dropped about 1 percent while Airbus stock gained 0.5 percent.

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The top sales position at Airbus is the root of European competition against Boeing in the $100 billion a year jet market. Schulz began his career at France’s former state-owned Aerospatiale before working at aerospace supplier Goodrich and at two French airlines UTA and Air Liberte.

“This combination of skills and experience makes Eric the right pick to succeed John Leahy at a critical juncture of our company’s development,” Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders said in a statement.

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Rolls-Royce stated that Schulz stays on until the end of the year without involvement in any commercial negotiations, to avoid displeasing Boeing as engine makers can sway an aircraft deal.

Although this month, Leahy signed off with a record deal at the Dubai Airshow, Schulz will inherit a Toulouse sales organization troubled by previous defeats looking for stability among UK and French corruption investigations into commercial jet sales. According to sources, morale has taken a hit from these investigations, which are now centered on the Paris-based unit of Airbus headquarters.

Airbus stated that Leahy shall stay with the company for a short transition period one Schulz moves over.

In the meantime, Leahy intends to complete the preliminary 430-jet deal with Indigo Partners that was announced in Dubai. Leahy is fighting to end his career as sales boss equal to Boeing, following a year that Boeing has had a strong lead, particularly with large jets.

“I have never seen John give up on anything,” Enders stated.

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