By Helen Massy-Beresford in London

EADS co-chief executive Noël Forgeard has been forced to apologise for offending members of the French parliament after two members publicly called for his resignation over comments comparing them to monkeys.

According to French press reports he referred to them as behaving like “excited monkeys,” in a meeting with trade union representatives over the future of troubled subsidiary EADS Sogerma Services.

EADS has issued a statement saying that Forgeard “formally refutes and regrets the interpretation given to some of his comments” during the meeting on Monday.

The statement was issued in response to a call from the Green Party deputy leader of the Assemblée Nationale, Noël Mamère for Forgeard to resign over the remarks. Marmère is also deputy mayor of the Bordeaux suburb of Bègles close to the Sogerma site, which is earmarked for closure. Mamère was joined by parliamentarian Laurent Emmanuelli in making the resignation call.

EADS says: “in no way did [Forgeard] wish to harm the dignity of those elected by the [French] republic, having always shown the utmost respect for the institutions and their representatives.”

EADS has set up a working group with the French authorities to look at the possibility of sustaining some activities at the Sogerma Services site at Bordeaux-Mérignac airport which employs around 1,000 people. The company announced earlier this month that it would close the site as part of a restructuring plan that was to jettison activities “without prospects for profitability.”

Sogerma posted losses of €237 million ($306 million) last year.

In response to government calls to reconsider the site’s closure, and “taking into account the willingness of the French government to support the aeronautic industry through appropriate means,” EADS’s board has suggested setting up a working group with the appropriate authorities, "in order to study the possibility to sustain those activities with the full support both of EADS and the French government.” Forgeard met the French prime minister Dominique de Villepin on Wednesday to discuss the planned closure.

“The board has instructed the EADS management to implement this study in an open and determined spirit, with a goal to protect a core of about 300 working positions on the Bordeaux-Mérignac aeronautic site,” it says.

EADS was unavailable for further comment.

EADS is also at the centre of the Clearstream corruption scandal making its way through the French judiciary system. Jean-Louis Gergorin, formally resigned as second-in-command of EADS last week to allow unhindered investigations into allegations of money laundering through the Luxembourgish clearing bank at the time of the Taiwan frigate scandal of 2004.

Source: Flight International