Airbus’ Smooth Operator (Sept-09)

Someone choosing his words very carefully this week is Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, John Leahy.

Panorama reportedly sent a journalist along to a press conference that the aircraft manufacturer were hosting this week “with the sole purpose, it seemed, of extracting disobliging remarks about the Irish motormouth and his airline” according to the Times’ City Diary, referring, of course, to Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary.

The Panorama journo was clearly out to provoke, questioning Leahy incessantly about reported run-ins with O’Leary. But to his credit, when asked whether it true that Ryanair had agreed, and then walked away from an order, Leahy carefully replied, “yes, but that’s business”. Then, when it was suggested that Airbus would not be accepting any more orders from Ryanair, Leahy refused to be drawn on the subject, nipping things in the bud by telling the reporting not to put words into his mouth.

Although he had to concede that Michael O’Leary “plays hardball”, I think it’s fair to say that Leahy did well under such provocative questioning. I wonder if Michael O’Leary would have faired so well had he been in that line of questioning…

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