A350 Funding Decisions Come at Crucial Point of WTO Dispute


While other news outlets were highlighting the fact that the major players involved last week — France, DaimlerChrysler, and Lagardere cancelled a scheduled meeting to discuss the financing of the Airbus A350 aircraft — “squabbling” was how Reuters put it — Flight International focused today on the real issue here.

The real issue is that any type of launch aid is now subject to closer scrutiny, because the WTO dispute continues between the United States and the European Commission. The question at issue here? Government subsidies to aircraft manufacturers.

Speaking of, the U.S. has filed its first WTO submission, and the EC is expected to reply by Feb. 9. Meanwhile the EC has already asked the WTO to select panelists and set a timetable for its own case against the U.S. before the end of business today.

Given this backdrop, I think it is safe to say that the manner in which the new aircraft’s launch is funded is a bit more complicated then it would have been previously.

I wouldn’t, therefore, call the cancellation of the funding meeting last week a result of “squabbling” or “infighting” amongst the EADS partners. Rather, I’d call it making sure their respective backsides are covered no matter what plan is adopted — given the current political landscape.