Brother, Can You Spare A Euro?
This may not be the
best time to ask for a loan... but Airbus appears ready to put the
touch on European governments for more help in redesigning and
building the A350.
That's a move that could well reignite the smoldering trade
dispute between the US and the EU over launch aid... a dispute that
both sides signalled they were once again willing to talk about
just a few weeks ago. But EU governments also seem to be willing to
help Airbus out once again, and that could mean more bitter
transatlantic exchanges and more pleadings in the World Trade
The Airbus request for financial help could come soon -- but no
money is likely to change hands until sometime next year. That
actually gives both the US and the EU time to continue working on
an agreement to end the ongoing trade battle.
But at this point... Airbus executives tell the International
Herald Tribune the talks appear to be going nowhere.
"As far as we can see, the negotiations have not led to
anything," said Airbus spokesman Rainer Ohler, adding the aid is
"indispensable" for Airbus to create parity with its rival,
"Launch aid is the only available system right now," Ohler
For Airbus, asking for more launch aid on the A350 is a bitter
pill... and the latest indignity to hit the European consortium in
the past week. News of the request comes just a few days after the
company announced a six-month delay in production of the A380
superjumbo jet, over problems traced to wiring difficulties in what
is slated to become the world's biggest commercial aircraft.
It also comes as co-CEO
Noel Forgeard (right) is under the microscope for selling off
more than $3 million worth of Airbus stock, just as word of the
A380 delay began to spread throughout the factory back in
Forgeard says it was merely an unfortunate coincidence that his
stock sale coincided with the start of those rumors... but in what
could be an important break, Thomas Enders -- Airbus's OTHER co-CEO
-- said he could have sold HIS stock at the same time Forgeard did,
and decided not to.
"The crisis at Airbus is also a crisis for EADS," Enders told
Reuters in Munich. "But every crisis brings opportunities with it.
Because of this, we should not act too hastily and only consider
personal consequences and changes in procedure at Airbus."
There are other cracks in the bridge between German and French
shareholders at Airbus. Forgeard, a Frenchman, let slip during a
recent radio interview that he thinks some of the current A380
problems could be traced back to his predecessor, Gustav Humbert...
Agence-France Presse reports Forgeard took steps to soften those
statements in a Monday interview with the French newspaper La
"I remain confident in Gustav Humbert and we support him in the
recovery which is taking place under his management" at Airbus,
Forgeard told the paper.
Forgeard added he was no longer a "fierce defender of Airbus'
independence" -- hinting he feels the company should have
a closer relationship with parent company EADS.