Airbus’ new head of C Series program to seek supplier cost reductions

MONTREAL — The Airbus executive who will take charge of the C Series program plans to meet Bombardier suppliers quickly in order to reduce production costs of the aircraft.

Philippe Balducchi, who will be the CEO of the joint venture, also believes that the assembly line to be built in Mobile, Ala., could, from time to time, deliver airplanes to customers outside the United States.

“There is no reason for suppliers to be worried,” said Balducchi, the current head of performance management at Airbus commercial aircraft.

He and Airbus Canada president Simon Jacques met reporters Wednesday.

“To be more successful, you have to be more competitive and it will generate more volume. This is the rule of the game for all programs.”

In order to obtain price concessions, Airbus expects to see an increase in volumes resulting from an acceleration of C Series sales.

“I do not want to go into too much detail because it’s going to depend on the suppliers, but certainly, we’re going to ask them for some effort,” Balducchi said.

Once the partnership is finalized in the coming months, Airbus will become the majority shareholder of the C Series, which cost about US$6 billion to develop, without having to pay a single penny.

Bombardier’s share will be 31 per cent. The Quebec government — which injected US$1 billion in 2015 — will own the remaining 19 per cent.

The appointment of Balducchi and 11 colleagues was confirmed to Bombardier employees through an internal memo, obtained by The Canadian Press.

Airbus and Bombardier will each have six members on the management team, including sales and marketing.

Rob Dewar, the current vice-president of the C Series program, will be the head of customer support and engineering.

Fred Cromer, the president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft division, will remain with the aircraft manufacturer, but will no longer be responsible for the C Series.

Balducchi wouldn’t confirm a published report that the C Series will be renamed the A200 line of aircraft in alignment with other Airbus products.

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