February 27, 2020 / 2:40 PM / a month ago

Safran in talks on Airbus A320neo production increase -CEO

PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Safran’s chief executive said on Thursday the French engine maker is in talks with Airbus over plans to increase production of its A320neo jet as Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded.

Representatives of Safran’s CFM venture with General Electric, which makes LEAP engines for the A320neo and the MAX, met Airbus boss Guillaume Faury recently to discuss raising production in 2022-23, Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said.

Petitcolin was speaking as Safran reported that the MAX crisis had put a 700 million euro ($761 million) dent in its 2019 cashflow and was expected to contribute to a 5% revenue decline this year. Boeing has halted production of its flagship narrow-body jet, grounded almost a year ago after two deadly crashes attributed to poorly designed flight-control software.

A320 production issues have limited Airbus’s ability to respond. But the European planemaker may raise monthly output by one or two aircraft in each of the two years after it hits a monthly goal of 63 in 2021, Faury said recently.

Safran’s room for manoeuvre is also limited by its own suppliers’ production bottlenecks affecting some forged metal parts, Petitcolin said.

But he added: “With the sharp (production) decline at Boeing there is some spare capacity available at suppliers, and so we are in discussions (to) work out how we can support the requested production increase.” ($1 = 0.9201 euros) (Reporting by Laurence Frost and Tim Hepher; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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