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Illegal air subsidies

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The EU has paid illegal subsidies to the airline maker Airbus over four decades, according to the first of two verdicts by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The ruling follows a complaint made six years ago by the American government, which claimed that subsidies for Airbus damaged its American rival Boeing. But the EU has also complained that the USA has given illegal support to Boeing, and it may yet appeal against the WTO judgement on Airbus. T&E policy officer Bill Hemmings said, ‘Although it’s not clear exactly what subsidies have been paid to which company, it is rather revealing that the world’s airline industry has been claiming it has been badly hit by the global economic downturn, yet here is another example of state aid, much of it probably illegal. We need to be more sceptical when the aviation industry next claims it needs more money.’ A second ruling by the WTO on a complaint by the EU about the US subsidising American airline maker Boeing is expected in the next few weeks.