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Sun, Oct 09, 2005

On Second Thought: Airbus Will Accept 'Legally Binding' Funding For A350

Move Contradicts Earlier Remarks Of No Government Launch Aid

Less than 48 hours after asserting there were no plans (at the time) to accept subsidies for its new A350 airliner, Airbus representatives announced Friday the European consortium had received "legally binding" government funding for the launch of its new Boeing 787 competitor.

US diplomats in Geneva made no public response to Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert's announcement the company has received commitments for funding on the A350 from all four governments with a stake in Airbus -- France, Germany, Britain, and Spain, according to the Associated Press.

The Airbus announcement seemed to contradict an earlier statement, reported in Aero-News, by Airbus parent company EADS that there were no current plans to accept government launch subsidies for the A350 program.

EADS called its decision Thursday, announced at the same time the A350 (file photo, right) was approved for production by EADS board members, "a new window of opportunity" into diffusing the tense legal battle, currently being played before the World Trade Organization, between the European Union and US over government subsidies of its respective countries' aircraft programs.

The Thursday announcement was met largely by silence from US representatives, an indication perhaps to Airbus it wasn't worth foregoing the government aid in order to win negligible points with the WTO.

French Transport Ministry spokesman Arnaud LeBlanc said his office had signed an agreement to grant launch aid to Airbus for the A350, "without specifying the timing or the amount." He added this plan leaves room for negotiation with the US.

The A350 is a medium-size long-range airliner designed to rival Boeing's similar 787 Dreamliner. Airbus plans to launch the A350 by 2010, two years after Boeing begins customer deliveries of the 787.

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.airbus.com

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