France’s €15b aerospace bailout to push decarbonisation

By on 16 June, 2020

Image by Martin Dlugolinský via Pixabay.

France announces a financial support program for its aerospace sector, calling for investment in electric and hydrogen aircraft.

The French government’s rescue plan aim to save hundreds of thousands of jobs by shoring up the financials of manufacturer Airbus and  Air France — on top of the €7b already announced for the national carrier.

French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire said that over 300,000 indirect jobs were at risk, including major firms Thales, Safran and Dassault along with Airbus, and that the support was needed to keep pace with US rival Boeing and China’s Comac.

“Our objective is to avoid any enforced departure of highly-qualified employees over the next few years,” he said. “Falling orders should not destroy skills that have been built over decades.”

The support measures include subsidies, loan guarantees and investment, and will also support the ecosystem of some 1,300 French firms involved in the aeronautics industry.

But the rescue package comes with an emphasis on transformation — with measures designed to develop carbon-free air travel by 2035.

Ministers said that eligible companies would need to ramp up their investment in alternative technologies such as electric and hydrogen propulsion.

“France can become the country of the carbon-free aircraft,” Mr. Le Maire said.

The package includes €1.5 billion in funding for France’s civil aviation research council, CORAC, with the aim to make France’s aviation industry ‘the cleanest in the world’.

The previously announced Air France bailout contains provisions for the carrier to update its fleet with more efficient, less carbon-intensive aircraft, on the condition that it cancel some of its domestic routes to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

The efforts have been criticised by environmental groups and budding aeronautical engineers as not going far enough to reduce air traffic, with over 550 aspiring aeronautics engineers publishing an open letter in newspaper Le Monde.

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