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French aerospace industry appeals for state aid

The French aerospace industry has called for more state aid to help it weather the global economic crisis that has left aviation giants struggling with order cancellations.


The president of the GIFAS French aerospace industries association, Charles Edelstenne, said small businesses especially needed a boost from the government to help them secure access to credit and avoid job cuts.

A 1.7 billion euro (2.4 billion dollar) rescue package earmarked for the industry is an “excellent initiative,” Edelstenne told a news conference, but he added that “more must be done.”

“As an economic regulator, the state can intervene in a significant way,” said Edelstenne, who is also the chief executive of Dassault Aviation.

Aviation giants like Airbus and Boeing are predicting a drop in world demand for new aircraft of up to 60 percent in 2009 due to the global economic crunch and tight credit.

Edelstenne was speaking amid gloom ahead of the Paris air show opening next Monday which this year is expected to announce fewer orders.

Organisers are nevertheless hoping to make a splash to mark the 100th anniversary of the trade event held in Le Bourget, just outside Paris.

Edelstenne said the state had yet to make clear the terms for access to easy credit designed to help airline companies maintain their plane orders and warned the delay could be costly.

“Without this, we are going to lose markets and our customers are going to cancel or delay deliveries scheduled for 2009 and 2010,” he said.

The Dassault CEO said there would be no announcement at the air show concerning the long-awaited sale of Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.

The worst global slump in decades has devastated the airline industry, with passenger numbers plunging more than 11 percent in March compared to a year earlier, according to data from the International Air Transport Association.