Airbus puts supply chain executive at helm of loss-making A220
PARIS, May 10 (Reuters) - Airbus AIR.PA has appointed a senior internal supply chain executive to run its Canadian operation, with responsibility for trimming losses on the A220 jetliner series, in the latest in a series of management changes at the European aerospace group.
Benoit Schultz, 48, will take over on Sept. 1 from Philippe Balducchi, a former finance executive who became the first head of the Canadian venture when Airbus bought the CSeries jet programme from Bombardier BBDb.TO in 2018 and renamed it A220.
Schultz is currently a senior vice president in Airbus procurement, which runs its global supply chain. He steps up as Balducchi plans to "pursue other opportunities", Airbus said.
The Canadian-designed A220, with 110-130 seats and a modern lightweight design, has seen a boost in sales under Airbus after its development took a heavy financial toll that helped trigger Bombardier's near-total exit from the aerospace market.
It has notched up more net orders so far this year than any other Airbus model as airlines seek to reduce fuel costs and favour smaller aircraft in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
While sales have benefited from the stronger Airbus marketing machine, industry sources say the European group has yet to secure low enough prices from suppliers for the plane's components to push the A220 project back into the black.
Airbus is seen as particularly dependent on winning cuts in prices from Raytheon Technologies RTX.N, whose aerospace businesses make the engines and many of the plane's systems.
Placing a procurement heavyweight at the top of the recently formed Canadian subsidiary is a signal both to suppliers and to the Quebec government that the A220's future depends on reducing industrial costs as well as winning orders, one insider said.
Airbus had no immediate comment.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Edmund Blair)