Russia’s Aeroflot has signed an agreement of intent to buy 22 Airbus A350 widebody jets. At the same time, Airbus’ parent EADS offered Russia’s state-controlled Unified Aircraft Corporation a 5% stake in building the A350, as one of several partnership proposals.
Aeroflot chose Airbus in preference to Boeing’s 787 in what some analysts say is a political decision due to cooling relations between Moscow and Washington. The main difference between the two aircraft is that the Airbus model is not due to go into service until 2013, five years after the 787.
Meanwhile the row between the two planemakers over subsidies goes on at the World Trade Organisation. In the latest move, the European Union on Thursday accused Boeing of benefiting from nearly 18 billion euros worth of illegal state aid. The EU’s written evidence to the WTO arbitration panel repeated long term complaints from Airbus, such as the one made by EADS joint boss, Louis Gallois, last December. He said: “We are all aware in our heart that the 787 is a highly subsidised aeroplane. It is the core of the European case in the WTO conflict.” The US has accused Europe of granting 75 billion euros in illegal aid to Airbus. No ruling in the case against Airbus is expected before September with a verdict in the Boeing case due early next year.