Airbus has embarked on a fresh search for a sales chief to take over from soon-to-retire John Leahy as the aerospace group seeks a clean break from turmoil over investigations into the use of middlemen, said three people familiar with the plans.
Leahy’s deputy, Executive Vice-President Kiran Rao, had been identified as Leahy’s successor earlier this year, but his appointment to one of the industry’s most visible jobs was never confirmed as Leahy’s retirement slipped towards end-year.
Chief Executive Tom Enders has now decided to look outside the core part of the company in a bid to denote a fresh start, but Rao is not being targeted in the compliance investigation which centres mainly on a defunct headquarters team, the people said.
Rao confirmed he would not be in the running for the post.
“I can confirm I am no longer pursuing the position of commercial director and intend to concentrate on Airbus product strategy,” Rao told Reuters.
An Airbus spokesman declined comment on personnel matters.
The search comes as the Airbus marketing machine is seen as demoralised as a result of British and French probes, which have also sparked a blanket internal investigation.
Enders told a recent sales meeting Leahy would stay till the year-end but failed to confirm Rao’s appointment, leaving what insiders described as a sense of vacuum amid dwindling sales.