Europe and USA have been using the World Trade Organization as a forum to settle the contentious issue of how both Airbus and Boeing finance new aircraft development for some time.

In its submission to the WTO, the US Trade Representative charges European states with unfairly supporting Airbus through launch aid, allowing it to target market share at the expense of profitability, principally through pricing practices.

Subsidies graphic W167European Union officials have now submitted their official response to the US accusations which they claim corrects “errors, distortions and mischaracterisations by the USA”.

Separately, Europe will next month table its own claims against the USA, alleging massive subsidisation of Boeing at state and federal level.

WTO hearings will begin in March, with the US challenge to EU support for Airbus followed by Airbus’s counter claim running in parallel. A final WTO report on the US claims is due by the end of October.

While both sides profess to be committed to achieving a negotiated solution there has been little progress outside the WTO dispute arena.

As the European airframer prepared to announce a massive restructuring plan, the USA once again extended an olive branch to effectively settle the case out of court. Read Aimée Turner's report on the offer including a timeline of upcoming likely landmark dates in the case.

Key landmark 2007/08 dates in WTO trade dispute

  • 10 January - USA posts public version of its case on the internet
  • 9 February - EU files confidential response to US claims
  • 20-21 March - First WTO hearing of US case due
  • 22 March - EU to file confidential version of its case and post public version of defence in US case on the internet
  • 5-6 June - Second WTO hearing of US case
  • 14 June - US to file confidential defence in EU's case
  • 11-12 July - First WTO hearing of EU case scheduled
  • 13 July - EC to post public version of its case against the USA on the internet
  • October - WTO to issue final ruling on the US case
  • February 2008 - WTO to issue ruling on the EU case 

Since the beginning of the dispute, Flight International has tracked both sides of the arguments.


Background articles 


The official WTO summary of the dispute


The EU WTO challenge to the US government subsidies to Boeing (EU press briefing document)


Key facts and figures on the 1992 EU-US agreement on the Large Civil Aircraft Agreement


Executive summary of the US Department of Trade's first submission to the WTO


EU overview of active WTO settlement cases involving the European Commission as complainant of defendant