Airbus, Boeing trade barbs

European planemaker Airbus and US rival Boeing traded stinging barbs Wednesday over controversial government support for aircraft development, accusing each other of bending the rules.

Airbus was first out of the blocks, rejecting claims by its arch-rival that it had caused job losses in the United States, arguing that Boeing itself was responsible for destroying employment.

"Boeing repeats its old standby that European reimbursable loans destroyed jobs in America," Airbus said in a statement issued after it unveiled plans Monday to open a factory on Boeing's home turf.

"The WTO (World Trade Organization) dismissed such claims and has specifically found that Boeing's own management decisions and its outsourcing/offshoring policy were exclusively responsible for American job losses," it said.

Boeing responded in kind, charging Airbus with getting six times the government subsidies it had received.

WTO findings "were crystal clear," it said. "$3.0 billion of subsidies not already corrected against Boeing versus $18 billion of subsidies against Airbus."

It said it would "support whatever steps the US government deems necessary to fulfill its WTO obligations. We expect the same commitment to compliance from Airbus and the European Union.

"Yet they have singularly failed to meet the WTO requirement to remove outstanding illegal subsidies or their adverse effects," it said.

Worse still, Boeing charged that Airbus was continuing to get similar subsidies for its new wide-bodied A350 plane, aimed to compete directly with its own 787 Dreamline.

"Airbus and the EU must take immediate steps to comply with the WTO's ruling to deal with outstanding subsidies and it must finance the A350 and all other future programs on commercial terms," it said.

Boeing and Airbus, which dominate the global aircraft business, have been at odds for years over subsidies they receive from their government backers, and both have won and lost complaints filed against the other at the WTO.

The European firm said in Monday's statement that "as Boeing persists in misleading the public, Airbus expects another WTO ruling that confirms once again its prior findings."

These were, it said, that European government loans were a WTO-compliant private-public partnership mechanism while grants, as received by Boeing, were illegal.

Airbus, a subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), called on Boeing to "walk the talk: cut the cheap misinformation and the massive illegal government subsidies".

Airbus on Monday said it planned to build a $600 million assembly plant in the US port city of Mobile, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico, to produce the popular A320 passenger planes.

The firm, based in Toulouse in southwestern France, said it will roll out its first US-built plane by 2016.

Airbus estimates 4,600 new single-aisle aircraft will be needed in the United States over the next 20 years and the new US plant could more than double its share of the huge market.

by Hasan Mansoor © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Jul 4, 2012