SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co named a former aerospace engineer and company veteran to the post of top airliner salesman on Friday, giving him the task of leading the U.S. plane maker's efforts to outsell rival Airbus in the fiercely contested $100 billion a year global market.
The company's commercial plane unit, which is based in the Seattle area, named 55-year old John Wojick as vice president of sales, filling the place of Ray Conner, who took over leadership of the whole commercial plane unit in June.
Wojick, who started at Boeing in 1980 as an engineer and progressed through several international sales roles, now has the job of steering Boeing's sales campaigns at a crucial time in its development of new planes.
Boeing is pushing airlines hard to buy its new 737 MAX single-aisle plane, which is quickly catching up with Airbus' competing A320neo launched a year earlier. But it is struggling to find big buyers for its new 747 jumbo jets, while sales of its carbon-fiber 787 have stalled.
Last year EADS unit Airbus outsold Boeing, due to strong A320neo sales, and managed to win a landmark order with core Boeing customer American Airlines, the main AMR Corp unit. But this year Boeing is setting the pace with 701 net plane orders to Airbus' 270, powered by hot sales of the 737 MAX.
"John's experience working with customers worldwide and his ability to align Boeing resources in support of their needs are critical in today's competitive environment," said Conner in an internal memo Boeing made available to Reuters on Friday.
(Reporting By Bill Rigby; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)