Airbus partners to reach A350 funding decision in a month

By AFP

July 15, 2010 Updated Jun 15, 2009 at 2:01 PM CDT

Airbus partners agreed Monday to reach a decision on state aid to support development of the A350 long-haul airliner within a month, French, British and German officials said on Monday.

Spain, the fourth member of the European consortium, did not attend a meeting on the issue, held on the opening day of the Paris Air Show here.

"We were not able, given the absence of Spain, to take a decision today," French Secretary of State for Transport Dominique Bussereau said, referring to plans to provide reimbursable state assistance to the program.

No official reason was given for Spain's absence.

"I proposed to my colleagues that we give ourselves a month," Bussereau said after conferring with German Parliamentary State Secretary Peter Hintze and British Minister for Defence and Business Lord Drayson.

Bussereau said France was considering a contribution of 1.4 billion euros, while Hintze said Germany would likely commit up to 1.1 billion euros.

Lord Draysaon, who stressed that the British government was "fully committed to these (funding) negotiations," declined to put forward a figure for Britain.

Bussereau earlier Monday insisted that advance state funding for the A350 project would not violate European Union competition rules.

"France will defend the principle of the refundable advance, which is a system that has shown its efficiency," he told reporters.

The funds are "acceptable to the European Union because they are not subsidies but advances," he argued.

Airbus intends to launch the A350 in 2013 as a rival to Boeing's 787, which is planned to come onto the market in 2009.

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