From: Reuters
Published May 26, 2008 11:19 AM

Airbus CEO renews calls on state aid

BERLIN (Reuters) - The chief executive of European planemaker Airbus renewed calls for a level playing field in terms of state aid compared to U.S. rival Boeing ahead of a meeting of ministers from the Airbus partner countries.

"Our issue is not state aid per se, our issue is to create a certain balance with the state support the competition receives," Tom Enders told Reuters in an interview at the ILA Berlin Air Show on Monday.

"For ages, we have demanded nothing other than what actually goes without saying: namely the so-called level playing field with our American competitors," Enders added.

This would be one of the subjects discussed at the conference of Airbus ministers at a meeting at the air show on Tuesday, Enders said.


In particular, the Airbus chief cited U.S. subsidies for the development of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, as well as strong support for the program in Japan.

"The subject will become more difficult as it will no longer be purely bilateral" as more countries become involved in aircraft program, Enders added.

The chief executive of Airbus parent EADS, Louis Gallois, called for more state aid in an interview with Germany's Berliner Zeitung newspaper published on Saturday.

German government aerospace spokesman Peter Hintze responded by saying the industry knew it was "very ambitiously and very fairly" funded.

The government supported the industry in research and development in line with the regulations of the World Trade Organisation and the European Union, Hintze said on Sunday.

That was only valid with the "firm commitment that production takes place here as well," Hintze added.

The Airbus countries include France, Germany, Spain and the


Enders also told journalists at the air show on Monday that the air travel industry faced headwinds from the high oil price, the weak dollar and the slowing U.S. economy.

"There really are some dark clouds on the horizon for air travel," said Enders, speaking in his role as president of the German BDLI air and space travel industry.

But he added that he was confident, as it remained a growth industry.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller, Writing by James Regan; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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