Boeing dismisses Airbus WTO claims on 787 launch

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Boeing has dismissed comments by Airbus regarding the World Trade Organisation's apparent conclusion that the US airframer could not have launched its flagship 787 Dreamliner without illegal subsidies. In addition, it restated previous claims about damaging subsidies handed to Airbus by European governments.

"We would have built the 787 regardless of what NASA may or may not have done," says Boeing in regard to the European claims of composite technology research and development funding from the US space and aeronautics agency.

It adds: "Today's reports confirm the interim news from last September that the WTO rejected almost all of Europe's claims against the United States, including the vast majority of its R&D claims."

However, the airframer acknowledges that $2.6 billion of Europe's subsidy claims were upheld, though Boeing calls the ruling a "sweeping rejection" in comparison to the $20 billion of illegal subsidies it believes the WTO found that Airbus received in a June 2010 ruling.

That, says Boeing, requires Airbus and parent EADS to "repay or restructure $4 billion in still outstanding illegal launch aid subsidies Airbus received to develop the A380. They must also remedy the adverse effects of the additional $16 billion in other illegal subsidies Airbus received."

In the continuing war of words between the airframers, Boeing continues: "The WTO's decisions confirm that European launch aid stands alone as a massive illegal subsidy only available to Airbus, which has seriously harmed Boeing, distorted competition in the aerospace industry for decades, and resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of good-paying US jobs."

The ruling comes as the US Department of Defense nears the end of a protracted decision on a $35 billion contract to replace 179 USAF KC-135 tankers, where government subsidies are believed to impact the offering price.

Both the US and EU can appeal points of the final ruling, which has yet to be released publicly. Boeing says appeals would not be filed by either government until the official public release of the report. Once any appeal is filed, says Boeing, a ruling takes 90 days.

Boeing says a final WTO ruling on the June case is expected in "the next couple months".