European Union trade commissioner Karel De Gucht is reiterating the need for negotiation to settle the transatlantic trade dispute over subsidies to Airbus and Boeing, following release of interim World Trade Organisation findings on Airbus's counter-case alleging US government funding support for Boeing commercial aircraft programmes.

Although the findings are confidential, De Gucht says the conclusions "support the EU's view in the disputes".

"A more detailed assessment is needed, but I believe even more strongly than before that the question of subsidies to aircraft manufacturers can be settled only by way of negotiations," he says.

French transport secretary Dominique Bussereau and development minister Jean-Louis Borloo also welcomed the WTO's condemnation of "massive subsidies" to Boeing.

Boeing, which had claimed its own separate case against an alleged $20 billion in subsidies to Airbus had been upheld by the WTO earlier this year, meanwhile said "the ruling amounts to a massive rejection of the EU case and confirms that European launch aid to Airbus stands as the single largest and most flagrant illegal subsidy in the aerospace industry".

The case on Airbus subsidies was initiated by the USA in 2004, following a decision by the US government to unilaterally withdraw from a 1992 bilateral European Union-US agreement on trade in large civil aircraft. The EU subsequently filed a retaliatory case challenging support received by Boeing in the form of research and developments aid from NASA, and other support.

Source: Flight International