That interminable World Trade Organisation dispute between Airbus and Boeing over government subsidies to large airliner programmes flared up again last week. The WTO decided, on appeal, that some aid to Airbus it had previously ruled invalid was indeed invalid, but some was not. Both sides predictably declared total victory. Nothing will change, let alone actually end; in short, yawn - unless you're a lawyer banking the fees from this fiasco.

Shedding much more light on transatlantic rivalry is the news that Boeing is to build the Inmarsat-5 communications satellites, a deal won thanks in perhaps great part to a $700 million direct loan to Inmarsat from the US Ex-Im Bank. The loser was Thales Alenia Space, of France, backed by Ex-Im's French rival, Coface.

While $700 million is quite a sum, the deal seems to fall outside the spirit of government-backed lending, which surely is meant to support trade that boosts development in poorer countries.

Let's all hope that the world financial system is not still so battered that commercial banks can't even back one of the world's most profitable companies in pursuit of the next phase of a wildly attractive business.

A happier interpretation is that the freedom and fairness-loving Americans play the system just as hard as those European socialist scoundrels - but, this time at least, offered a better deal.

Source: Flight International