ATW Editor's Blog

The subsidy yawn

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Airbus and Boeing have renewed their public spat over subsidies. Yawn. Each side talks about leveling the playing field, legal versus illegal, millions versus billions. Which misses the point.

Neither side can claim the moral high ground if each is willing to accept financial subsidies. There’s no such thing as a subsidy that’s “a little bit bad”; it’s either right or it’s wrong and manufacturer leadership can always opt out of financial support on principle.

Also, neither Airbus nor Boeing is a threat to each other on the subsidy issue. They have a duopoly on the world’s large commercial aircraft market, which is in boom time with record orders and backlogs being logged in Toulouse and Seattle. Airlines are going to ensure that their new fleet choices take into account maintaining the balance of power between these two OEM giants regardless of subsidies. And the profitability of both manufacturers stands high above that of even their most financially successful airline customers.

Given the new aircraft types that are in development on both sides of the Atlantic and all-time high production rates, Airbus and Boeing would better serve their customers by concentrating on delivery rather than engaging in yet another public fracas on subsidies.

Of course, both manufacturers do deliver excellent products and customer service.   

If there is a genuine concern regarding unfair aircraft manufacturer subsidies that could skew the market, then it lies neither in Europe nor the US. Instead, look to Russia and, in particular, China. Some behind the scenes, cohesive work to ensure fair standards are met by those who are eager to get new aircraft products established would be wise.

But please, less of the public tit-for-tatting on very old ground.

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