Air Transport World

Playing fields. (influence of government subsidies on aircraft industry competition) (editorial)

In the protracted war of words-so far-on government subsidies between the U.S. and Airbus industrie's home nations there have been repeated calls for a reasonable roach to the problem. All we want is a level playing field, to let the products speak for themselves," each side says.

Let's be immediately clear on one matter: There is no such thing as a level playing field. Advantages abound. An argument for "a level playing field" often is a disingenuous attempt to handicap another's advantages while leaving yours intact.

That having been said, it is apparent that over the years, Airbus has needed government financial support to jack up its end of the field to even approximate a level surface. The consortium has not had the option, the luxury, of being able to go it alone, on its own strengths. But Airbus has held out that it wanted to do just that-eventually.

It has been an Airbus position that once it obtained a critical mass, it could go it alone. "The long-term objective of Airbus Industrie is to obtain a sufficient volume of business to become self-sustaining and to generate a profit for its shareholders," a 1988 Airbus position paper said. …

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