GE joins Boeing suppliers paring workers amid 737 Max hiatus

Cuts account for less than 10% of plant's workforce

General Electric is laying off 70 temporary employees at a jet engine factory in Quebec that builds power plants for both Boeing's grounded 737 Max and its chief rival, the Airbus A320neo.

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The cuts, which the Boston-based manufacturer told FOX Business are temporary, account for less than 10 percent of the plant's workforce of 900. While demand for new Leap-1B engines for Boeing's Max has stagnated after the planemaker cut output before halting it altogether this month, the Bromont plant is home to a variety of other projects.

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Production of the Leap-1A engine for Airbus alone is at record levels, GE said. Airbus' A320neo, a more fuel-efficient upgrade of its single-aisle jetliner, was introduced before the Max and has benefited from the U.S. competitor's sidelining after two overseas crashes that killed everyone on board. Regulators halted commercial flights with the Max after investigators linked the disasters to new anti-stall software that interfered with takeoff.

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Nearly a year later, the best-selling model in Boeing's history has yet to return to the skies. Operators in the U.S. have been forced to juggle their schedules for months to compensate for the loss, CEO Dennis Muilenburg abruptly retired in December and supplier Spirit AeroSystems is laying off 2,800 workers.

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GEGENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY
$11.81
-0.03 (-0.25%)
BABOEING COMPANY
$324.15
-7.85 (-2.36%)
SPRSPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS HOLDINGS INC
$67.30
-0.69 (-1.01%)

Products from Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit make up nearly 70 percent of the Max's structure, including its fuselage and engine pylons, and the aircraft accounts for nearly half the supplier's annual revenue.

The situation for GE is vastly different. Not only does the Canadian plant affected by the layoffs build engines for a Boeing rival, it produces spare parts for more than 60,000 engines already powering aircraft worldwide as well as components for military programs.

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GE Aviation is the parent company's largest business by sales, generating $22.1 billion in the first nine months of 2019. Its Leap engines, built in partnership with France's Safran SA, have been a revenue driver, with the joint venture, CFM International, winning a $20 billion order at the Paris Air Show last year.