The World Trade Organization (WTO) has overturned a ruling which had found that Airbus received illegal subsidies from European governments. Earlier this year, Airbus was ruled to have received US$1.5 billion in research and development subsidies, US$1.7 billion in infrastructure subsidies, US$2.2 billion in equity infusions, and US$15 billion in launch aid. A new report released yesterday however, overturned the majority of these decisions.
The ruling didn’t mark a complete victory for Airbus however; the WTO upheld the complaint by Boeing and US authorities that the launch aid provided to Airbus was illegal. This included at least US$4 billion for the launch of the A380. Unsurprisingly both companies tried to claim victory following the ruling. Airbus issued a statement saying that the WTO “rejected all of the arguments made by the US during the appeal and sided with the EU”. The company’s Head of Public Affairs and Communications, Rainer Ohler added that it was “time for Boeing to accept this legal defeat”.
It appears however, that Boeing has no such intention. The US planemaker’s Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jim McNerney said that the ruling marked a “clear, final win for fair trade”. Boeing was previously ruled to have received at least US$5.3 billion of US taxpayer dollars.
Whatever Boeing claims however, the ruling certainly appears more positive for its European rival, as it effectively opens the door for the French, German and other European governments to continue providing funding to Airbus in areas such as infrastructure and research and development. Airbus suggested that this practice is now likely to continue, saying that the new ruling would require “only limited changes in European policies and practices”.