Airbus's A3XX giant airliner to be built in Germany and France
DUESSELDORF, Germany, March 16 (AFP) - 00:31 GMT - Europe's Airbus consortium will build its range of huge new airliners in France and in Germany if it goes ahead with construction of the giant jets, a German government official told Thursday's edition of the Handelsblatt financial newspaper.
A compromise on "sharing in an equitable way" the work on the A3XX aircraft had been found allowing it be assembled at both sites, the junior minister in charge of German aerospatial and aviation policy, Siegmar Mosdorf, said.
He spoke to the newspaper Wednesday, after meeting Philippe Camus, the head of French aerospace group Aerospatiale-Matra, and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace boss Rainer Hertrich.
Mosdorf's words indicated that Paris and Berlin had smoothed over a row which had been delaying the start of development of the A3XX project. Airbus has not yet made a definitive decision on whether to build the plane, and is conducting market studies.
Up to now, Toulouse, which is both the headquarters of Airbus and the town where the current range of Airbus aircraft are assembled, and Hamburg, an industrial centre for Airbus partner DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, were competing to put together the new airliner.
The aerospace companies of Britain, France, Germany and Spain which make up Airbus, are looking to make the A3XX series of aircraft, which would be even bigger than the 747 jumbo jets built by Boeing of the United States, if the market studies prove them viable.
The massive planes, which would be able to seat between 555 and 656 passengers — compared to the 747's 416 to 524 passengers — would be both flagships for European technology and a high-cost gamble.
Long presented as a pie-in-the-sky dream of Airbus, the plans to build the A3XX got one step closer to takeoff Monday when the British government announced it would loan its aerospace company, BAe Systems, nearly 900 million euros (dollars) towards its part of the cost of making the planes.
The DaimlerChrysler Aerospace boss said in Berlin Wednesday that he was confident the German government would do likewise.
Hertrich told a press conference he had discussed the A3XX's industrial launch with Mosdorf on Wednesday, and told him he was seeking a 1.28 billion euro loan.
BAe Systems said that Airbus was talking to airlines to find out how many A3XX aircraft they would need and when they would put them into service.
If the project gets the go-ahead, construction would start in late 2000 and the first plane would be in the air in 2005.
BAe Systems, formerly British Aerospace, owns 20 percent of Airbus.
The other partners are French Aerospatiale Matra with 37.9 percent, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace with 37.9 percent and CASA of Spain holding the remaining 4.2 percent — all of which are merging to form the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.
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