Oh, you wanted him to lay bare all of his faults so you could pick over his carcass over those other failings. Or am I to believe everyone here would have just said good interview and lets leave it be if he had said he failed with the A380? And if you tell me people would not have found small details to attack him on, then I have a bridge to sell you.
Let's be honest with each other here, people are laying into him because they don't like him. They were going to find every little small details to pore over and attack him with and no matter what he said people would still have found something negative to say about the man. Look at your post, now it is apparently his fault for not only misreading the VLA market but also not having influence over the engineering department at Airbus or all other department to ensure the A380 was a success.
If you want to play the inference game I could say there are people who will never find fault in JL just as easily as you say there are people who will always find fault in JL. I believe the truth is more nuanced than that. I know I've said some positive things about JL in this very thread (that he called the A320neo vs Boeing 737-RS correctly, for one). Not sure I've seen your negative comments about JL.
But maybe we should focus on the interview itself rather than characterizing our reactions to the interview? Our forum rules say to debate the topic, not each other.
So, on his projection of the VLA market we have:
Because we couldn’t show appreciably better economics than the twins, the market was migrating towards the point-to-point. Of course, everybody wants to go point-to-point if there is no economic advantage of going hub-to-hub. If the A380 would have done what it was designed for, there wouldn’t have been as much fragmentation.
And on his role in A380 characterization and strategy we have:
The commercial department has to have much more input upfront on the design and performance parameters of an airplane. If you let the engineers just go off, designing what they think is really cool, you end up like we did with the A380. In commercial we never really focused on the fact that we built an airplane not optimized as the -800, but really built a -900, and we just had to put up with the -800 for a few years until we came out with the -900. Had we all sat around the table and discussed that strategy upfront, I would have been inevitably against it, as would have been the airlines. Who wants to buy a suboptimal aircraft?
Based on this, I think it's fair to say he misread the VLA market because he thought A380 could halt the move away from hub to hub, and he admits he did not gain influence over the design and parameters of the A380. I think both of these are failings of a Chief Commercial Officer. I would have said "good interview" if he did shoulder some of the blame, but I'm not finding that here, what I find is him blaming others, and it's disappointing. I have said it I was looking forward to JL writing his memoirs, but if the result is like this interview, I won't bother buying it.
He is saying it now because A) he no longer works for Airbus and B) the A380 program has ended so he doesn’t have to worry about hurting old friend’s/colleague’s sales campaigns. You only admit your product is bad after the fact or when you have a replacement to sell. With the industry in its current state aviation news has dried up so time to drum up interviews to distract from overall gloomy period of time.
John Leahy is a legendary man, but he shouldn’t be free from all criticism. It’s clear that did not do a good job early in the program in making sure the engineering focus of the A380 program actually aligned well with what customers were telling him they wanted (remember he was Chief Commercial Officer- he has influence in Airbus).
Yes, now that he's retired I was hoping we'd find him looking back on this experience and others with some distance and thus no need to be defensive about whatever mistakes he may have made, but it seems he doesn't spend much time soul searching, he blames others and gets back to the hard work of protecting his legacy. It's a shame because often one learns a lot from people's memoirs. I don't think we'll learn much from JL's.
It'd be interesting if Spaeth now went back to Jurgen Thomas and said "did you and your engineers really go off and design A380 without any input from the commercial department" and "did you and your engineers really decide to accept the overhead for A380-900 and A380-800F without any input from the commercial department". That would add some bite to the book, no?