European plane maker Airbus said that it has no plans to change the funding for its A350 wide-body plane, even after the World Trade Organisation ruled that European loans for the firm were illegal subsidies under world trade rules.
The WTO ruled last week that European “launch aid loans” to help Airbus develop the A380 and other top-selling planes violated global rules, according to US lawmakers, but European sources said Washington did not win a sweeping victory.
The findings, which came in a confidential 1000-plus page ruling, are the latest chapter in a decades-old battle between US manufacturer Boeing and Airbus for dominance of the global aircraft market, a major source of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
The WTO finding could limit Airbus’ options to finance new airliners, including the wide-body A350 due in the next decade.
But Airbus has “absolutely no plans to change the funding for the A350 at the moment,” Christopher Buckley, executive vice-president for Europe and Asia Pacific, told Reuters in an interview.
“From the Airbus point of view, we strongly believe, like we’ve always done, that reimbursable launch aid is a very good way of launching aircraft programmes,” Buckley said.
The Airbus case and the European Union counterclaim about US support to Boeing, the United States’ biggest single exporter, represent the most complex and commercially significant dispute in WTO history.
Washington says Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, received a $205 billion (£123.8 billion) (R1544 billion) boost from advantageous loans and other perks from France, Germany, Spain and Britain over two decades, giving it an unfair edge.
Brussels argues the Airbus loans were fair and says Boeing got big illegal subsidies from US agencies including NASA plus state tax breaks worth some $24 billion (R181 billion).
Pic: Airbus A350 plane