Boeing Co.’s chief airplane salesman, John Wojick, will retire from the post in early 2017 after four years of globetrotting and head-to-head competitions with Airbus Group SE for multibillion-dollar jetliner orders.
He’ll be replaced by senior vice president Ihssane Mounir, who leads the planemaker’s sales team in northeastern Asia, Boeing commercial airplane chief Ray Conner said in an e-mail to employees late Thursday. Mounir’s current portfolio includes China, which is poised to overtake North America as the world’s largest aviation market.
Mounir takes over as Chicago-based Boeing and European rival Airbus contend with slowing commercial jet sales after more than a decade of rapid expansion that left the planemakers with record order backlogs.
Wojick “has consistently demonstrated the integrity, tenacity, courage and commitment it takes to compete aggressively and win in the marketplace,” Conner wrote. He said Mounir’s “extensive knowledge of our products and services puts him in the best position to help our customers address their fleet and operational needs.”
Boeing shares rose less than 1 percent to $134.34 at 11:26 a.m. in New York. Through Thursday, the stock had fallen 7.8 percent this year.
Wojick helped make the 737 Max the best-selling new airplane model in Boeing’s 100-year history, although it still trails Airbus’s upgraded A320neo family, which benefited from an earlier market debut. Wojick also landed the largest sale in U.S. aviation history: Emirates Airline’s $76 billion order for 150 of Boeing’s 777X jetliners in 2013.
He joined Boeing in 1980 as an aerospace engineer before earning an MBA from the University of Colorado in 1985. Wojick held a variety of positions within Boeing’s sales organization, overseeing its marketing in North America, the Asia-Pacific region, India and elsewhere before succeeding Conner as senior vice president for global sales and marketing in August 2012. He holds a private pilot’s license and is the son of a U.S. Air Force and United Airlines pilot.
Mounir’s promotion caps a rapid rise at Boeing, which he joined in 1997 as a senior aerodynamics engineer. The Moroccan native didn’t speak English when he arrived alone in the U.S. at age 17, although he was fluent in Arabic, French and Spanish, according to a 2014 profile in the Seattle Times. Even so, he landed a conditional acceptance to Wichita State University to study aerospace engineering.
In his new post, Mounir will head sales and marketing of all commercial airplanes and related services to airlines and lessors worldwide. His duties will encompass sales, strategy, operations and customers relations, Boeing said in a statement Friday.
Mounir will also be Boeing’s counterpart to John Leahy, the colorful sales chief who has helped Airbus reach global market parity with the U.S. planemaker. Since 2011, Mounir has dueled with Airbus in China, which is spending heavily on aviation infrastructure and aircraft. His replacement will be announced later, Conner said.
“My goal is to beat Airbus in China every year,” Mounir told Bloomberg Television, adding that he wasn’t content with a 50-50 split of the market. “My goal is to go all the way.”