Airbus' Forgeard 'Reasonably Optimistic' On A350 Launch

By Agence France-Presse Airbus Chief Executive Noel Forgeard said Nov. 23 he is "reasonably optimistic" on the chances for the launch of a new A350 model that would compete with Boeing's 7E7. He said the plan would be discussed at a board meeting next week. Speaking at a news conference in France, Forgeard said Airbus would apply for loans for the development of the plane, if the board approved the launch. He added that the availability of loans would not affect the ambition of the A350 project. Previously, Airbus officials have indicated the new program could cost up to three billion euros (US$3.94 billion). State-backed launch loans are a serious bone of contention with arch-rival Boeing Co., which says the aid distorts competition. The U.S. government has launched preliminary procedures over the issue at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, and in retaliation the European Union has lodged a similar case at the WTO against Boeing over indirect state aid. The two parties have until Dec. 6 to decide whether to extend the current 60-day consultation period or ask for a panel of judges to be formed to decide the case. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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