Airbus Head of Sales and Chief Commercial Officer, John Leahy is a sales powerhouse who pulls no punches and is highly sought after by the press. (Credits: Author)

MIAMI — Airbus is to bid farewell to aviation’s legendary salesmen John Leahy.

Leahy will stay at the helm of the company’s sales force until January 2018 while his replacement, former Rolls-Royce executive Eric Schulz takes control.

Leahy, 67 has been with Airbus since 1985 and has been responsible for over 90% of Airbus’ total deliveries, a total of 16,000 aircraft. Schulz will report directly to CEO Tom Enders.

“We are glad to have Eric Schulz joining our team,” said Tom Enders. “He has broad international experience in the aerospace industry, a deep understanding of airline operations and aero engines as well as a proven track record in building and effectively leading organizations in complex environments.”

“This combination of skills and experience makes Eric the right pick to succeed John Leahy at a critical juncture of our company’s development,” Enders added.

Airbus has quoted the former Piper Aircraft employee as ‘a living legend in the history of aviation.’

Leahy, or ‘Mr. Airbus’ has maintained relations with many different customers for over 30 years and has been responsible for orders relating to the A320 family all the way to the A380 and A350XWB programmes.

“There are not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for John Leahy both on a professional and personal level,” added Enders.

“Leahy’s contribution to Airbus’ commercial aircraft business is epic. His relentless efforts, his vision and his dedication were key factors in propelling the company from an industry underdog to a world leader,” he said.

Eric Schulz was the former President of Rolls-Royce. He started his career in 1986 with Aerospatiale-Sogerma and had since held numerous senior management positions in companies like UTA, Air France, AOM, Air Liberté-British Airways, Goodrich, EADS, and Rolls-Royce.

With such a high curriculum, Schulz seems to be a perfect replacement for Leahy as he has the experience in the many different fields of aviation.

Schulz had only been at Rolls-Royce as President since January 2016. He had also been handling the large engines department of the company meaning that his relations with Airbus would have been healthy already due to the close development of the Rolls-Royce Trent series, powering the engines for the A330, A340, A350 and A380 programmes.

Picture from Airbus.

With Leahy’s departure, the aviation industry is about to lose one of its most magnificent giants and eloquent speakers.

“No matter how hard the challenge, I have never seen John give up on anything. His tremendous fighting spirit and his unwavering loyalty to the Airbus flag have made him an inspiration for many, including me. He has become a good personal friend and I wish him a restful and well-deserved retirement,” added Enders.

For someone like Leahy to contribute to the industry this much is something not many will do in their lifetime.

For someone like Eric Schulz to come in, it is good Airbus have chosen him so then the shoes will not be that difficult to fill and for someone who has a load of experience in the aerospace industry already, the transition for him should be relatively simple.