France provides boost for a future carbon-neutral jet

On Tuesday 9th June, the French government pledged €15 billion for its aviation industry, which has taken a large hit due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This package includes €1.5 billion for its research into a "carbon neutral plane" over the next three years and with hopes that it will be operational by 2035, 15 years earlier than planned.

"We are declaring a state of emergency to save our aeronautics industry so that it can be more competitive." Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a press conference in Paris.

The support package also provides a lifeline for jobs in the French aviation sector which employs 300,000 people. According to the Finance Minister, “If the state doesn’t intervene straight away, one third of the jobs in the sector could disappear.” He added that “This aid will also guarantee the employment of highly qualified engineers without whom the French aeronautical industry has no future.”

The French city of Toulouse is famous for housing one of the biggest aircraft manufacturers in the industry, Airbus. In April, the aerospace giant announced new production rates - which represented around a one-third cut in production. With orders being put on hold or cancelled worldwide, Airbus recorded a total of 66 cancellations for the first three months of the year. Part of the financial package has therefore been directed to the company.

An Airbus A350-900 awaiting completion. Photo by Max Sutter | AeroNewsX

Another beneficiary is Air France-KLM, as the state said the package includes the previously announced €7 billion in loans and guarantees to the carrier.

The financial aid also includes €500 million for medium-sized suppliers in the aerospace sector as well as €300 million in other aid to sub-contractors to modernise plants.

Airlines around the world have parked up to 90% of their fleet, with estimates by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) pointing to a reduction in the number of airline passengers by 1.5 billion by the end of the year, and an estimated US$314 billion in lost revenues estimated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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