With appeals of the US and European Union complaints against illegal subsidies to Airbus and Boeing now settled, and the US requesting sanctions in the amount of $7-$10 billion a year, it is interesting to note that Airbus has far greater exposure to the US market than does Boeing to European Union's.

Flightglobal's ACAS database shows that while US-based carriers and lessors have 1,009 aircraft on order with Airbus, their EU counterparts have signed up for just 339 from Boeing. Whatever this imbalance may say about each rival's relative success on the other's home turf, it suggests that, at least in theory, Airbus has far more to lose than Boeing if the WTO ever imposes sanctions in the disputes.

Although the US Trade Representative has asked for authority to levy sanctions, the EU and Airbus contend the USTR is jumping the gun on the required process before sanctions can be imposed. The US and Boeing have six months to comply with the decision of the WTO appeals panel before the EU can determine whether it can pursue sanctions after "process." The two cases are not legally connected and run on their own timelines.

However, the potential impact of sanctions may be a moot point; legal wrangling over compliance with WTO rulings could continue for years. And, few observers expect sanctions, if any, to be levied directly on either Airbus or Boeing products. If sanctions are ever levied, these are expected to be to products and industries unrelated to Airbus and Boeing.

Source: Commercial Aviation Online