EADS board may be finally ready to launch A350

1st December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 1, 2006 (AFP) - The board of directors at European aerospace group EADS convened at company headquarters in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Friday and could approve the launch of the A350 XWB aircraft manufactured by its Airbus unit, sources close to the board said.

PARIS, Dec 1, 2006 (AFP) - The board of directors at European aerospace group EADS convened at company headquarters in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Friday and could approve the launch of the A350 XWB aircraft manufactured by its Airbus unit, sources close to the board said.

The panel "should take a decision on launching the A350 program", a French source said, cautioning that "we have to wait until the end of the meeting because it could change at the last minute".

Several other sources spoke of progress among shareholders toward an agreement on financing a program to develop the mid-size, long-haul jet, which is expected to cost EUR 10 billion.

"Financial details of the program have been wrapped up but precise details on state guarantees will be worked out later," a source said here.

Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois has backed the A350, which is to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. But Airbus, facing financial difficulties because of production problems with its A380 superjumbo program,  cannot pay for the A350 project from its own resources.

Financing has been complicated because private shareholders in EADS, the French media and technology group Lagardère and German-US automaker DaimlerChrysler, are in process of reducing their stakes and firmly oppose a capital increase.

Lagardère wants to lower its stake in EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company, from 15 to 7.5 percent while DaimlerChrysler is looking to reduce its holding from 22.5 to 15 percent.

Public assistance from the French government, which has a 15 percent interest in EADS, or from Germany, Spain and Britain, which were involved in creating the company, would likely spark vigorous US opposition.

The United States and the European Union are currently embroiled in a row at the World Trade Organization, with the EU contesting US government assistance to Boeing and Washington challenging EU support for Airbus.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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