Paris asks partners to pay extra EUR 1.5 bn for A400M

5th February 2010, Comments 0 comments

The sum comes on top of EUR 2 billion already envisaged by the seven partner countries, but still falls short of the EUR 6.4 billion that is needed to finance the project.

Istanbul – France has urged its partners in the A400M project to stump up an extra EUR 1.5 billion to get the military carrier off the ground, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Thursday.

The sum comes on top of EUR 2 billion already envisaged by the seven partner countries, but still falls short of the EUR 6.4 billion that Airbus parent company EADS is seeking from its clients to finance the project.

"I have the prime minister's agreement for France to extend a refundable advance of EUR 400 million," Morin told reporters following a meeting with his counterparts in Istanbul.

"That will take us to between EUR 1 and 1.5 billion if the other countries affected by the industrial fallout of the programme follow suit, which is not certain."

Morin said all seven partners -- Germany, France, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Turkey -- have set Airbus a three-week deadline to agree a deal on launching the embattled aircraft.

He also said that he hoped an agreement could be found at the next meeting of European Union defence ministers at the end of February in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Between them the seven countries have ordered 180 planes for EUR 20 billion from Airbus.

But Airbus has threatened to pull the plug unless the client countries come up with more cash, warning the fate of European aerospace giant EADS depends on the project.

Airbus has been meeting on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Istanbul with nations hoping to buy the aircraft -- which is three years behind schedule and a reported EUR 11 billion over budget.

A German defence ministry spokesman said earlier Thursday there had been "substantial progress" in talks over the A400M, with "a broad agreement on delivery times and technical parameters."

Following their meeting in Istanbul, the defence ministers issued a communiqué calling on Airbus Military to "honour its responsibilities and respect the obligations it has made" to the nations that ordered the aircraft.

It added that the ordering nations have already made significant concessions regarding delivery times and technical aspects of the plane.

"The partner countries want this plane but not at any price," warned Morin, estimating the gap between the partner countries and Airbus at EUR 4 to 4.5 billion.

Airbus has 52,000 employees around Europe, with about 10,000 working on the A400M, a state-of-the-art new aircraft that can carry troops, armoured vehicles and helicopters and would replace Europe's ageing fleet of transport planes.

AFP / Expatica

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