France And Germany Have Also Pledged Financial Support
Britain on Friday agreed to lend Airbus $563 million to develop
its A350 long-haul passenger aircraft in a move to create jobs and
boost the struggling aerospace sector. The British government said
in a statement that it would loan Airbus the equivalent of 394
million Euros ahead of the A350's launch in 2013.
It added that the move would create and sustain more than 1,200
jobs at Airbus's British plants as well as over 5,000 positions
within the supply chain across Britain.
The move is a boost for the aviation sector, which has been
badly hit by a deep global recession, with airlines cancelling
orders as demand for air travel weakens. "We welcome the UK
government's decision to invest in the A350 XWB," Airbus president
Tom Enders said in a joint statement with the government. "This
partnership with the UK government means that the UK taxpayer can
expect a sound return on their investment," he added.
Airbus, a division of the European aerospace giant EADS, intends
to launch the A350 as a rival to Boeing's 787, which is planned to
come onto the market in 2009. Britain's Business Secretary Peter
Mandelson described Friday's announcement as "excellent news for
the UK aerospace sector and for the thousands of British workers
within Airbus and its UK-based supply chain".
The Airbus A350 XWB is described by the company as an
eco-friendly passenger aircraft that can seat between 270 and 350
passengers. Able to run on less fuel than current planes, its
development is supported by four partner nations -- Britain France,
Germany and Spain.
France has announced support of 1.4 billion Euros for the
program, Germany has proposed support totalling 1.1 billion Euros,
while the Spanish government remains in discussions with Airbus
over its funding offer.
Airbus last week reported 118 confirmed new orders, after
cancellations or postponements, for all its aircraft in the first
seven months of 2009. The company's stated target for 2009 is to
achieve 300 new orders. The latest figures put it ahead of US rival
Boeing, which as at August 4 had achieved 40 confirmed new
The number of cancelled or postponed orders has become a key
measure of airliner manufacturers' health during the global
economic crisis. Airbus lost 22 orders to cancellations in the
first seven months whereas Boeing lost 89 orders including 73 for
its flagship long-haul 787 Dreamliners.
In June, Boeing delayed the maiden test-flight for the
Dreamliner, which is already two years behind schedule.