Coronavirus News Asia

Airbus, Air France secure €15 billion bailout

Finance minister Bruno LeMaire has launched a much-needed rescue plan for France’s devastated aerospace industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an attempt to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs and shore up manufacturer Airbus and national carrier Air France, France unveiled a €15 billion (almost US$17 billion) bailout plan, The Guardian reported.

According to the plan, companies would have to ramp up investment in alternative technologies such as electric and hydrogen planes as part of the bailout.

The plan includes €7 billion already announced for Air France, whose fleet was almost entirely grounded during the pandemic, and whose partner KLM is being backed by the Dutch government, the Guardian reported.

LeMaire said the government would do “everything to support this French industry that is so critical for our sovereignty, our jobs and our economy,” as he launched the plan alongside the transport, defence and environment ministers.

The government hopes the deal will prevent decline and help keep Airbus competing with its US rival Boeing, as well as China’s COMAC, which has threatened the global duopoly, the Guardian reported.

The bailout will help push through Air France orders of new Airbus planes, while it also includes new defence spending by the government on Airbus military products.

The aeronautical sector is one of the biggest employers in France, providing 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in manufacturing, research and development, the New York Times reported.

A third of those would have been wiped out if the government did not step in, LeMaire said, adding that preserving jobs was the top priority.

Unions in the UK called for a similar bailout to protect up to 1.2 million British jobs, The Guardian reported.

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