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April 28, 2005

Airbus, a Symbol of European Unity?

The Guardian does blather (quelle surpise) at times.

The giant A380, able to carry more than 800 passengers in some configurations, is a muscular symbol of what a united Europe can achieve.

A United Europe? You mean all 25 nations are involved? You mean that the damn Yankees are kept out? You mean the European Union itself has something to do with it? The polite answer is, err, bollocks, and that is being polite.

General Electric provides some of the engines, that grand and great European company. Some of the aluminium fabrication is done by VAW, owned by Norsk Hydro, that grand and great European Union company. Of the 25 European Union countries 21 have nothing to do with it.

If you really must point to Airbus as an example of European co-operation, really must use it as a blueprint for how the European Union must develop, then you are left with John Major’s idea of a Europe a la carte. Those companies and countries that wanted to get involved did so. Those that did not, did not do so. The launch aid comes from national coffers, not from EU ones. Most certainly this is an example of international co-operation, but not of "European" in the sense used about the Union.

I’d be OK with (as you know I don’t think the EU should exist at all) an EU that worked on the basis of Airbus, a multi-tier Europe, a pick and choose Europe, one in which each nation decided which part of the whole it wanted to join up with.

But that isn’t how they describe it, is it?

April 28, 2005 in European Union | Permalink


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Tracked on Nov 26, 2005 5:27:31 AM


I think the term united Europe (notice the lower case u) is OK they dont say European Union. You seem to gloss over the fact that Rolls Royce supply over half the engines. The engines contain major components from Italy and Spain. I'm pretty sure that the European components in the Airbus are considerably higher than in a Boeing.

Posted by: Geoff | Apr 28, 2005 10:49:21 AM

Umm it is upto the Airliner to decide who supplies the engines - so if BA buys some A380 it may choose Rolls engines. If Air Singapore buys some A380s it may choose EngineAlliance (GE + P&W). Currently about 52pc of A380 will be Rolls-Royce, 48pc P&W; which is a favourable share considering RR is the #2 overall airline engine manufacturer.

Similarly when someone buys a Boeing 747 they can choose any of the three companies which have engines for it: Pratt & Whitney, General Electric and Rolls-Royce.

Posted by: Monjo | Apr 28, 2005 11:53:57 AM

Umm http://www.enginealliance.com/aboutmrkt.html
One has to wonder why AirFrance, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic are going to the US for engines :P Definitely not a sign of European 'unity'

Posted by: Monjo | Apr 28, 2005 11:56:14 AM

One has to wonder why AirFrance, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic are going to the US for engines

Because General Electric is not just an industrial conglomerate, it's also one of the leading aviation finance companies.

The reason its engines (recognised as inferior to RR for long distance widebody operation by most aero engineering professionals) have the #1 market share is that airlines, none of which have any money, can get far cheaper loans from GE to buy GE engines than they can from a bank to buy RR engines.

(this is an oversimplification, and most of the money in aero engine deals is paid in service fees rather than upfront anyway. The end result is the same: GE's aviation finance arm subsidises GE's aero engine arm.)

Posted by: john b | Apr 28, 2005 12:06:09 PM

Modern airliners are extremely complex machines with lots of components; I'm sure that most (if not all) EU countries will be involved in manufacturing parts for the A380 and other Airbuses.

As will American companies, of course. Which is why a transatlantic trade war over Boeing v. Airbus doesn't make too much sense.

Posted by: Phil Hunt | Apr 28, 2005 6:19:57 PM

Why are the EUnuchs so obsessed with besting the US? It's China and the other incipient Asian tigers who threaten to wipe Europe economically off the map, not the US.

Posted by: Irene Adler | Apr 30, 2005 3:57:09 AM