European Union aid to Airbus ruled illegal by World Trade Organisation

RIVAL aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing have both claimed victory following a landmark World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling on illegal subsidies.

A WTO appeals panel has partly overturned a key element of an earlier ruling that found Airbus had benefited from billions in illegal subsidies.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said the ruling confirmed that reimbursable loans from the EU were legal.

“It’s time for Boeing to accept this legal defeat and end the masquerade. The WTO confirmation of the European loan system is a big victory for Europe,” said Rainer Ohler, Airbus’ head of communications.

But Seattle-based Boeing said the ruling proved that the loans were illegal and must end.

“This is a clear, final win for fair trade that will level the playing field for America’s aerospace workers,” said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive.

US officials also claimed victory from the ruling.

The panel found that Airbus had received $18bn (£11.1bn) in WTO-inconsistent subsidies that “have caused harm to our industry over the last 20 years,” said Tim Reif, general counsel for the US trade representative’s office.

He added that European governments must now withdraw subsidies to Airbus or eliminate their adverse effects within 60 days.

The ruling is unlikely to end the dispute between Boeing and Airbus, after years of disagreements.