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Boeing Replaces Jetliner Sales Chief After Airbus Inroads

Boeing Co. is replacing its commercial-jet sales chief, Marlin Dailey, a month after Airbus SAS made inroads into one of the U.S. planemaker’s top customers.

Ray Conner, who had been head of sales before Dailey was appointed in December 2008, will take an expanded role as vice president of sales and customer support, Boeing said today in a statement. Dailey previously led European sales and will become president of Boeing Germany, Northern Europe/EU and Africa.

“Ray Conner is one of these guys, if you cut him, he bleeds Boeing blue,” Howard Rubel, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in New York, said in an interview. “He knows the factory, the product, and the customer.”

American Airlines ordered 260 new single-aisle jets from Airbus and 200 from Chicago-based Boeing last month. The move compelled Boeing to follow Airbus into offering an upgraded version of its smallest jet rather than waiting to develop a replacement, its stated preference for more than a year.

“Today’s announcement is about increasing our focus on our customers globally to better support their requirements, not about our competition or any particular customer,” said Marc Birtel, a spokesman.

The change is Boeing’s eighth in commercial sales chiefs since John Leahy began running sales for Toulouse, France-based Airbus 17 years ago. Conner, a 34-year Boeing veteran, last held the post from December 2007 to January 2009, when he was named vice president of supply chain management and operations.

The shift will help Boeing meet its goal of “being the global market leader,” Jim Albaugh, the commercial airplanes chief, said in a message to employees. Conner will be succeeded by Stan Deal.

Boeing is the world’s second-largest commercial planemaker, after ceding the top spot to Airbus in 2003.

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