Airbus 350 Is Launched Without State Aid

Airbus shareholders backed the launch on Oct. 6 of the A350, a mid-size, long-haul aircraft to compete with Boeing's planned 787 Dreamliner, and agreed to temporarily forgo government aid to finance development costs. The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which owns 80% of Airbus, said the decision to do without state assistance next year was aimed at facilitating a negotiated settlement to a U.S.-European Union subsidy dispute now before the World Trade Organization. But a U.S. trade official quickly dismissed the initiative and insisted that any state launch aid made available to Airbus was "unacceptable."

The move to begin production of the A350 was also backed by BAE Systems of Britain, holders of a 20% stake in Airbus.

Announcing approval of the A350 program, EADS said Airbus would not take immediate advantage of reimbursable government loans from Britain, France, Spain and Germany.

The EU and the U.S. are at loggerheads over state subsidies and assistance given to their respective civil aircraft manufacturers, with each accusing the other of breaching international competition rules.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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