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Airbus confirms A380 and A350 launch-aid amendments

Airbus and its four primary European partner countries have agreed to amend A380 and A350 launch investment loans as part of compliance measures linked to the World Trade Organisation dispute over large civil aircraft financing.

The WTO had recently stated that Airbus and the European Union had achieved compliance regarding the "vast majority" of support, according to the airframer, but that "some" remaining obligations required "minor adjustments".

"Those have now been addressed by the EU," says Airbus. "The terms of these amendments – like the terms of the original [launch investment] contracts themselves – remain confidential, but they are aligned with current market conditions."

In a compliance communication to the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body, the European Union says it has "taken appropriate steps" to bring measures "fully into conformity" with WTO obligations, and to comply with the body's rulings.

It states that the measures include agreements between Airbus and the French, German, Spanish and UK governments to "achieve prospective consistency with a contemporaneous market benchmark" through amendments to member state financing for the A380 programme.

"In any event, the benefit from the French, German, Spanish and UK A380 [state financing] subsidies has been withdrawn through amortisation or otherwise, achieving the withdrawal of these subsidies," it adds.

Similar measures have been undertaken with respect to launch funding for the A350.

Airbus has concluded an amendment to the German A350 state financing, through development bank KfW, and says that this means the German subsidy "is withdrawn" as a result, and the benefit of the loan has been "substantially amortised".

The communication to the WTO adds that Airbus has "repaid in full" amounts outstanding under UK A350 financing agreements.

Benefits from French and Spanish loans have also "substantially been withdrawn" as a result of amortisation, or otherwise, it says.

"We are confident that we have now achieved full compliance in the [large civil aircraft financing] case as a clear demonstration of the will to ensure a fair trade environment respecting international trade agreements," says Airbus general counsel John Harrison.

"Airbus is looking forward to seeing the same constructive attitude and actions of the [USA] and Boeing in the upcoming [counter-claim] case."

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