Airbus’s chief salesman John Leahy at “full chat” is like poetry in motion. If anyone was put on this planet to sell aeroplanes, Leahy was, and there’s no hiding his excitement now he’s got his hands on his latest gizmo, the A320neo.
A bit like Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull F1 car, Leahy clearly believes his “equipment” is on a different level to the competition and its “last century” engines, and that he just needs to turn up to claim the prize. He’s already sold 300 Neos and thinks that he’ll get 200 more by Paris.
So why is he is so keen for Boeing to join him with a “737neo”? He was at pains this week in Toulouse to declare that the market has made it clear it wants the re-engined A320 “and probably a re-engined 737 as well”.
Leahy sets out a fairly rational argument as to why an expensive all-new design would not offer enough of a step over re-engined single-aisles if it would be introduced a decade from now. Which is why he’s of the firm belief -publically at least – that once all the noise about a clean-sheet design dies away after Paris, Seattle will be in the market with its own re-engined narrowbody.
But perhaps the reality is he needs Boeing to do the “737RE” because he knows the alternative could spell disaster. Boeing is unlikely to do nothing, at least not in the longer term, and Leahy doesn’t want the spectre of another all new “game-changer” like the 7E7 forcing him to follow suit – especially now EADS has committed money and resource to Neo.
Anticipation is already building for the nex round of “The Sporty Game” at Paris, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how it all plays out…