Airbus and UK may lose out as tanker contract is cancelled

Posted on 11 Sep 2008 by The Manufacturer

Airbus has suffered the cancellation of a 35 billion pound contract to supply the US air force with refuelling tankers after the American defence secretary Robert Gates said the saga had become “emotional”.

Airbus were awarded the contract this year which would have reportedly secured 11,000 British jobs and provided four billion pounds for the UK economy as the wings for the contract-winning A330 planes were to be made here. The US firm Boeing, the staff of which are currently involved in industrial action including strikes, has been calling for the contract to be contested again.

Gates now appears to have bowed under the pressure and said the matter will be given further consideration after the presidential election.

Bernie Hamilton of Amicus, the representing union for Airbus staff in Britain, said: “Politics has over taken the right thing to do and the British government needs to reflect on that.

“Is it fair for American companies to compete openly for defence contracts in this country when they are so protectionist in their own?” he added.

The Times reports what they label as an industry-insider as saying: “Just how many chances does Boeing get to win this contract. They lost it fair and square but now they get to offer a new plane to see if they can win with that. This competition has become very dirty.”

The newspaper also said it is widely believed that if Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States then Boeing will be hot favourites to win the fight.

Airbus’ plant in Broughton, North Wales, was set to become the site manufacturing the wings before this development.