Airbus UK plants hail Government A350 support

The UK Government is to back the Airbus A350 aircraft project with a £340 million loan.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson made the announcement while visiting Airbus UK's plant in Filton, Bristol, which will be making advanced high-technology wings for the new plane.

The Government assistance will create and sustain more than 1,200 jobs at Filton and at Airbus UK's Broughton plant in north Wales.

Described as repayable launch investment, the Government assistance is drawn partially from its £750 million strategic investment fund and will also help create and sustain more than 5,000 jobs within the supply chain across the UK.

The A350 XWB (extra-wide bodied) family consists of three planes capable of carrying 270-350 passengers. Airbus says they will be 25 per cent more economic to operate than current aircraft in the same size category, and will also be faster and quieter.

The French and German governments have already announced support for the A350. Spain, the other Airbus partner country, is still in discussions with Airbus.

Lord Mandelson said the agreement was excellent news for the UK aerospace sector and for the thousands of British workers within Airbus and its UK-based supply chain.

Speaking after the announcement at Filton, Lord Mandelson denied that the £340 million investment was a bail out for the aerospace industry. He said: "This is neither a bail out or a subsidy, we're not sinking in money from which we'll never see a return. This is a first rate investment in British engineering expertise.

"We're taking from our science base, and from our knowledge base in our economy, new technologies and new innovations which we're now ploughing into and investing into state of the art aircraft wing manufacture.

"It's also technology, innovation and expertise which we can now apply more generally across advanced manufacturing, which demonstrates the investment for the UK as a whole."

Airbus president and chief executive Tom Enders said: "We welcome the UK Government's decision to invest in the A350 XWB (extra-wide bodied), the most advanced, innovative, and eco-efficient aircraft in its market segment.

"This partnership with the UK Government means that the UK taxpayer can expect a sound return on their investment, and ensure the aviation industry continues to thrive in Europe and around the world."

Ian Godden, chief executive of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, also welcomed the announcement, saying: "Over 5,000 jobs are created or supported across the UK supply chain by the A350 programme. The significant technological advances of the composite materials being used means that the importance of the A350 programme in developing the skills and technology for the future sustainability of the UK aerospace industry cannot be exaggerated."

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