It is amazing what antics business people get onto to seal the deals. This pant-dropping incident helped Airbus push itself in Boeing’s backyard!
Jean Pierson, the colorful Frenchman who built Airbus into Boeing Co.’s biggest competitor, dropped his trousers to seal a key U.S. plane order in 1997, according to a book to be published on Tuesday.
The bizarre tactic worked, and the resulting order helped Airbus take on Boeing in its own backyard, setting up the biggest rivalry in global business, according to “Boeing versus Airbus,” by former New Yorker magazine writer John Newhouse.
Pierson, who ran Airbus from 1985 to 1998, was at US Airways’ headquarters for what he thought would be a short meeting to tie up a 400-plane deal, the anecdote runs.
At the last minute, US Airways’ then-chairman Stephen Wolf started arguing for a 5 percent discount on the selling price.
“Pierson began slowly lowering his trousers and saying ‘I have nothing more to give.’ He then allowed the trousers to fall around his ankles,” says Newhouse in his book.
Wolf replied: “Pull up your pants. I don’t need any more money,” and the deal was signed, according to the book. The author says he got the story from Pierson himself, and it was confirmed by another person present.
Shortly afterward, US Airways announced the purchase of 124 single-aisle Airbus A320 family jets with options for 276 more, a stab into the heart of Boeing’s competing 737 program. It put the European company on track to overtake Boeing in global orders only two years later.
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