You are here

Airbus CEO says may shun Germany for helicopter programmes

[Berlin] Airbus is seriously considering building new helicopter programmes in France rather than Germany in the future due to a restrictive export policy in Europe's largest economy, the chief executive of the group told Reuters.

Airbus is currently considering a follow-up model to its Super Puma helicopter, which can be used for military missions as well as civilian operations, such as transporting workers to oil rigs.

Tom Enders had earlier told a conference in Berlin that Germany was blocking deliveries of military helicopters to Uzbekistan because the helicopters, built mainly in France, included some German components. "We are seriously thinking about it," Enders told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference when asked whether Airbus would base any new helicopter programme in France rather than Germany. "With these uncertainties in export policy, we are left with little choice." Uzbekistan has been criticised for its record on human rights, with US campaign group Human Rights Watch saying in a report last month that torture of political prisoners was widespread in the Central Asian country. "It's not just about Uzbekistan," Enders said.

He said that the group was concerned that such small parts could lead to an export block, describing the block as a"provocation".

Earlier, Enders, who has been an outspoken critic of the German government's stance on exports, called for Germany to move away from national thinking and take a more European stance on cross-border defence programmes and consolidation. "If Germany persists with this exclusive stance when it comes to defence exports, and European defence consolidation and cooperation, then more and more projects will be 'German-free', not 'Made in Germany'," he told the conference.

Other companies to be affected by Germany's restrictive export policy include Rheinmetall, which has cut full-year forecasts after the planned export of combat simulation equipment to Russia was halted.

Enders also said tension between the defence industry and politicians was greater in Germany than anywhere else, but that a study on procurement shortcomings offered a chance to foster more cooperation and a better atmosphere.

The report, drawn up by KPMG, said the government and industry needed to manage defence projects better to keep a lid on rising costs and time overruns. "We did not keep to our promises, we did fail to meet expectations and we did cause cost overruns," Enders said. "But with hindsight, we accepted conditions that we shouldn't have accepted." He said as an example that the budget and time frame for the much-delayed A400M military transporter was too ambitious. The first A400M for the German army should be delivered at the end of November, Enders said. REUTERS