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Airbus says Europe may appeal WTO subsidy verdict

PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) - The European Union could appeal a World Trade Organisation verdict criticising government loans to Airbus and its dispute with Boeing will only be resolved through negotiations, the European planemaker said on Wednesday.

The Geneva-based WTO issued a public report backing a number of U.S. complaints about aircraft development loans from European governments to Airbus, a system which Washington says gives the planemaker an unfair advantage against Boeing BA.N.

"Airbus, the EU and the member states are closely analyzing the report in advance of a possible review by the WTO Appellate Body," Rainer Ohler, head of public affairs and communications at EADS EAD.PA subsidiary Airbus, said in a statement.

“Airbus expects this WTO dispute to continue for a few more years. As in all other trade conflicts, resolution will finally only be found in transatlantic or even multilateral negotiations,” the statement added.

Airbus and European officials said Boeing backers had failed to prove that U.S. interests had been damaged in any material way as a result of European actions.

“Neither jobs nor any profits were lost as a result of reimbursable loans to Airbus,” the company said.

An Airbus executive familiar with the case said Europe was likely to go ahead with an appeal, but that the final decision would be up to the European Commission.

The European Commission said it had yet to make a decision.

Airbus said it would meanwhile continue exploring development loans from European governments for its future A350 passenger jet.

“Boeing launched this processs to stop the A350 funding. This will never happen,” Ohler told Reuters.

According to the other Airbus executive, who asked not to be identified, Airbus is not compelled to repay money or change existing deals with governments as a direct result of Wednesday’s ruling, and the process could drag on for years.

“Airbus will not come under financial or legal pressure as a result of the report. We are not bound by law to change anything about present contracts or step away from discussions with governments about anything else,” the executive said.

“This does not mean the end of the road. We have the right to appeal and there has never been an appeal that left a panel report unchanged,” the Airbus executive added.

Both parties in the world’s largest trade dispute have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the findings. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay)

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