John Leahy (executive)

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For other people with the same name, see John Leahy (disambiguation).
John Leahy
Born August 1950
New York City, New York, U.S.[1]
Alma mater Fordham University (B.A.)
Syracuse University (M.B.A.)
Occupation Businessman
Children 3[1]

John Leahy (born August 1950) is an American businessman. He is the current chief operating officer - customers at Airbus after being appointed to the position in July 2005, as well as the company's chief commercial officer since August 1994, and a member of the Airbus main board of management. Well known as one of the commercial aviation industry's most prolific aircraft salesman, he made a significant contribution to the increase in Airbus' market share, from 18% in 1993 to 57% a decade later[2][3] during a time when Airbus SAS was a government owned company.


Leahy has an MBA from Syracuse University and a BA from Fordham University. He is a licensed multi-engine commercial pilot and is a former flight instructor with nearly 4,000 hours of flying time. From 1977 to 1984, Leahy worked in marketing at Piper Aircraft.


Leahy joined Airbus North America in January 1985, becoming head of sales soon after. He was appointed president of Airbus North America in 1988 with responsibility for the penetration of the strategic North American market, where most major U.S. airlines were Boeing customers.

In 1994, Leahy was appointed chief commercial officer at the main office of Airbus, the position of the sales chief which was previously allocated to a Briton. In this capacity, he has outlasted five Airbus CEOs, and seven Boeing sales chiefs. [3] He set a commercial goal for the company to achieve 50% of market sales by the year 2000. The target was reached in 1999 and Airbus has maintained over 50% market share – including worldwide deliveries of aircraft – until 2005.

Leahy is also known in the industry as a polarizing figure. Former Boeing sales chief Toby Bright said "John was the guy that at Boeing we loved to hate and we blamed him for a lot of the losses that we experienced against him".[3]

Leahy was instrumental in the launch of the new Airbus flagship, the A380-800 passenger aircraft and the A380-800F freighter aircraft. With its introduction with Singapore Airlines in October 2007, the A380 has become the largest airliner in the world, surpassing the Boeing 747. He is also leading the sales campaign for the all-new A350, with the challenge to regain ground lost to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 777.

The first signs of his job taking its toll on him appeared in autumn 2006, when he had to undergo heart surgery. At the time, doctors advised him to slow his work pace.[4][3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Top management". Airbus. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Kemp, Kenny (2006). Flight of the Titans. London: Virgin Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-7535-1014-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Selling the sky: the man who made Airbus number one". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Seattle Times: Launch of A350 imminent, Airbus sales chief says

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