The UK government is to provide Airbus with a launch aid package worth $579 million to develop the A350 XWB, a carbon-fiber aircraft that aims to rival Boeing’s Dreamliner. The package amounts to roughly half what Airbus was seeking from the UK to develop the wide-body jet.
The UK, French, German and Spanish governments have traditionally supported new Airbus aircraft through repayable launch aid. The amount of work allocated to each country is proportional to the loans given. The UK has typically received about a fifth of the work on Airbus and has specialized in the design and manufacture of wings.
Airbus is thought to have asked the British Government for between $999 million and $1.2 billion, but the Treasury’s growing debt mountain means it is only pledging $579 million. It is not yet known whether the UK will lose work on the project as a result.
Airbus is seeking a total of $5 billion to help to develop the A350, while the entire development budget for the aircraft is expected to be about $17 billion. The French and German governments committed to front $3.5 billion in the A350 at a meeting of ministers at the Paris Air Show in June.
Airbus employs about 11,000 people at Filton and Broughton in North Wales.