FRANCE: Unions give ‘OK’ to US Airbus assembly

French unions issued conditional backing recently to proposals by Airbus to assemble the freight version of the A330 in the US if it wins a contract to provide refueling planes to the Pentagon. Airbus parent EADS earlier sweetened its bid for a US$40 billion US Air Force refueling contract by offering to assemble the commercial […]


French unions issued conditional backing recently to proposals by Airbus to assemble the freight version of the A330 in the US if it wins a contract to provide refueling planes to the Pentagon.

Airbus parent EADS earlier sweetened its bid for a US$40 billion US Air Force refueling contract by offering to assemble the commercial freighter version of the A330 in Mobile, Alabama, alongside a sister aircraft to be used for the tankers.

The A330-200F freighter was launched last year to fill a mid-sized niche in the air cargo market and is being assembled in Toulouse, France, alongside the core passenger version of the A330, a wide-bodied twinjet.

In Toulouse, French union officials embraced the proposals on condition they did not lead to more jobs or aircraft programmes being transferred outside Europe.

Unions have expressed concerns about recent Airbus warnings that work could be transferred on a large scale to the dollar zone to cope with a fall in the U.S. currency’s value.

“We are for this (freighter) idea in principle if it allows us to win new markets,¡± said Jean-Francois Knepper, the senior Airbus delegate with France’s Force Ouvriere union.

“The production line which remains in Toulouse will be able to absorb surpluses in production. But there is no question of moving other aircraft types,¡± he told Reuters.