Manufacturer will forego launch assistance ‘if the USA and EU find a global agreement that levels the playing field’

EADS has indicated its willingness to give up launch aid in a move that could help to jump start talks between the European Union and the USA over aircraft subsidies.

The European manufacturer – faced late last week with the embarrassing prospect of having to attend the Paris air show with no agreement between French and German shareholders on its new executive management line-up – has meanwhile postponed a decision on approving the industrial launch of the Airbus A350 widebody twin until late September.

“We are ready to forego launch aid should the USA and the EU find a global agreement that provides a level playing field in the commercial aircraft market,” says EADS.

An EU official argues that “this confirmation that EADS still supports our position could signal to the US side that we have made our proposal to reduce or even eliminate launch investments in good faith. We hope that the US side will understand the signal and propose a similar measure on their side.”

A Brussels-based US official plays down the likely impact of the move by EADS, but agrees “it is possible the move could be seen as a goodwill gesture, but it depends on the evolution of our negotiating partner’s position”.

He adds: “If specific proposals are coming forward from our negotiating partner with that in mind they will have to be taken seriously.”

Airbus parent EADS declines to comment on industry speculation that the sensitive nature of the subsidies talks, and the possibility that EADS would rule itself out of the US tanker competition by receiving launch aid, have delayed the launch of the A350.

The company was expecting to receive approval in mid-June for repayable loans from its shareholders’ governments to fund a third of the A350’s €4 billion ($5 billion) development costs.

Late last week EADS had failed to announce its new executive management team, including a successor to Noel Forgeard as chief executive of Airbus.

EADS declined to comment on when or how the issue will be resolved.

  •  Airbus had hoped to announce orders and agreements for up to 150 A350s during Paris, but has apparently been foiled at the last minute by Emirates’ decision to delay finalising an agreement for up to 50 aircraft. Meanwhile, industry sources said that Airbus and Boeing appeared last week to have failed to persuade Qatar Airways to commit to a decision between the A350 and 787 in time for a Paris announcement.


Source: Flight International