Airbus urges Berlin to unfreeze $1.02 billion loan payment

BERLIN (AFP) - Airbus on Saturday urged the German government to pay out a promised final loan instalment of 600 million euros (S$1.02 billion) for the construction of the A350, after the aircraft manufacturer said it had created German jobs in return.

Airbus chief operating officer Guenter Butschek told the German daily Tagesspiegel that the firm was offering 4,000 jobs - 250 per cent more than originally planned - in a bid to unfreeze the last loan tranche, which has been blocked for months by Berlin pending agreement on German-based manufacturing and research jobs.

"We have clearly kept our promises and are of the opinion that there is no reason to withhold the remaining amount," Mr Butschek was quoted as saying. "The ball is now in the government's court." But he added that Airbus, a subsidiary of France-based EADS, was capable of completing the A350 development programme even without the outstanding loan amount.

"We have proved with our first flight, and with 400 flight hours since then, that we can finance and develop such a project according to plan, even without the rest of the government loan." The first A350 XWB wide-bodied passenger jets are scheduled to be delivered by the end of next year. The next-generation plane carried out its first test flight in June.

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