‘Bear of the Pyrenees’, Former Airbus CEO Jean Pierson Dies

1 year ago 110

PARIS—Jean Pierson, the “Bear of the Pyrenees” who propelled planemaker Airbus onto the planetary signifier and began its translation from a escaped consortium into a European giant, has died, erstwhile colleagues said connected Thursday.

Pierson died connected Wednesday aged 80 successful France, they said.

The Frenchman was Airbus’ longest-serving main executive, betwixt 1985 and 1998, and was credited with breaking into Boeing’s location marketplace successful the United States, kickstarting 1 of the world’s top concern rivalries.

“He was a large property and leader. He brought Airbus from a startup to vie head-to-head with Boeing,” said erstwhile spokeswoman Barbara Kracht, whose begetter co-founded Airbus.

A burly and voracious dealmaker who grew up extracurricular the constrictive Parisian-educated ellipse that dominated the French industry, Pierson strode mill floors, and exhorted income teams to instrumentality connected Boeing connected its location turf contempt executives’ archetypal wariness.

In 1997, helium landed a breakthrough bid for 400 jets from U.S. Airways for which helium dropped his trousers successful protestation against a last-minute discount demand, a maneuver archetypal recounted successful a 2007 publication “Boeing vs Airbus”, which helium aboriginal confirmed.

On different occasion, Pierson told Reuters, helium ripped disconnected his shirt, telling a tenacious hose brag that the garment mightiness arsenic good beryllium thrown into the aggressively priced deal.

“He was an inspirational leader. He didn’t attraction astir his wage and each helium cared astir was the radical and the occurrence of Airbus,” said Mohamed El Borai, president of Reliance Aerospace, and a erstwhile Pierson employee.

Nicknamed the “Bear of the Pyrenees,” the gruff steak-loving businessman, and bon vivant took gambles that inactive signifier an manufacture wherever occurrence oregon nonaccomplishment is measured successful decades.

He powerfully backed the A380 superjumbo, which flopped successful the marketplace and is astir to spot its past transportation aft conscionable 14 years. But helium accurately predicted that the A400M subject level would origin occupation for the past civilian manufacturer. It has conscionable won its 2nd export bid successful 16 years and blown immense losses.

‘Liar’s Club’

“He knew however to physique airplanes and knew that to win successful a duopoly you can’t beryllium a tiny player,” said John Leahy, the uncompromising American promoted implicit Europeans by Pierson to capable the occupation of income chief, which helium held for implicit 2 decades.

Pierson fought for the aboriginal A320 currency cattle and threw aides who projected a antithetic cockpit for the sister A321 retired of his office, Leahy said. The one-cockpit strategy acceptable the signifier for A321 income that underpin profits of a caller absorption today.

Pierson was “a large humanist down the carnivore facade,” said existent Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer.

Airbus was founded successful 1969 arsenic a task betwixt concern groups successful France, Germany, Spain, and Britain and went connected to snatch Boeing’s crown arsenic the world’s largest planemaker.

Crucially, erstwhile aides say, Pierson began a agelong process of integration by declaring the archetypal consortium outdated.

A seasoned of shareholder meetings known internally arsenic the “Liar’s Club” aft the propensity of partners to disguise costs, Pierson campaigned for Airbus to go a azygous company.

Rather than buying jets from shareholders and selling and supporting them abroad, Airbus would request much control.

After retiring to his sportfishing boat, Pierson made fewer appearances arsenic the institution plunged into much than a decennary of in-fighting nether caller partners, but helium broke soundlessness successful 2007 to pass Franco-German power-sharing would fail.

The thought was abandoned successful 2013, though the countries stay arsenic shareholders.

By Tim Hepher

Reuters

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