A350 government aid will fall short of maximum permissible

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Airbus insists it is not disappointed by the relatively modest contribution from the UK Government to the A350 XWB programme, formally disclosed today.

The UK is putting £340 million ($563 million) into the programme, primarily for work on the twin-jet's wing.

Airbus estimates the development cost of the A350 XWB at €11 billion and, under a US-European agreement for large commercial aircraft funding, governments can provide one-third.

This potentially meant that the four Airbus governments could contribute €3.67 billion to the A350.

But while the French and German Governments have tentatively committed to €1.4 billion and €1.1 billion respectively, the UK contribution takes the overall funding to around €2.9 billion - some €770 million short of the maximum.

The Spanish Government has not finalised its discussions with Airbus.

But Spain has the smallest workshare on the A350 - about 10% against the 38% of France, 34% of Germany and 18% of the UK - and will not make up the difference.

Airbus wryly suggests that the lower loan capital will simply reduce the repayment burden.

A spokesman for the airframer adds: "We very much welcome the UK commitment to the A350. This brings us closer to a level playing field with Boeing."

Airbus has secured orders for 493 A350s comprising 75 of the largest variant, the A350-1000, plus 236 A350-900s and 182 A350-800s.