India rules out probe into Boeing deal

13th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

NEW DELHI, May 13 (AFP) - India has ruled out a probe into charges of favouritism by European aircraft maker Airbus in a decision by state-owned carrier Air-India to award a multi-billion-dollar order for 50 jets to US rival Boeing.

NEW DELHI, May 13 (AFP) - India has ruled out a probe into charges of favouritism by European aircraft maker Airbus in a decision by state-owned carrier Air-India to award a multi-billion-dollar order for 50 jets to US rival Boeing.  

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said there would be no investigation into the awarding of the contract in a written reply to a question in parliament, a faxed copy of which was received by AFP on Friday.  

The Air-India board awarded Boeing on April 26 a USD 7 billion contract for 50 long-range aircraft after a year of intense lobbying by both companies for the deal.  

The contract remains subject to federal government approval.  

The issue threatened to stir a diplomatic flap between India and France last week but Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh said on the weekend it would not affect ties as both nations are "mature and friendly countries."   

After the announcement of the contract, Airbus India accused India's international flag carrier of not treating the European aircraft maker based in Toulouse, France, fairly.  

"We are not disappointed but astonished. We were not given fair and equal treatment," Airbus India vice president Nigel Harwood said at the time.  

Patel said Thursday the allegations made by Airbus were "baseless and not based on facts.  

"Air-India has followed the laid-down procedures in aircraft evaluation," he said. "Equal opportunities were given to both aircraft manufacturers for submitting competitive bids."  

Earlier this week, Air-India managing director V. Thulasidas also objected to Harwood's remarks and said "we have written to Airbus that their representative's remarks are not in accordance with good business practices."   

Thulasidas denied reports that blossoming political ties between India and the United States played a role in Air-India's decision to opt for Seattle-based Boeing.  

"The only consideration was what ... made commercial sense to Air-India." he said.    Airbus has said it was denied a chance to offer a wider variety of aircraft choices including its A380 superjumbo while Boeing was able to sell its B787 Dreamliner which is still under development.  

Air India has said, however, it would continue to consider Airbus for any future fleet expansion.  

"There's no need for Airbus to have apprehensions. The Indian travel business is growing exponentially and we believe we would need more aircraft three years later and Airbus will be considered," Thulasidas said.  

The government has forecast 20 percent annual growth in domestic and international air traffic with passenger numbers due to hit 50 million in five years. Indian passenger fleets are forecast to almost treble from 150 to 400 in the same period.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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