January 31, 2011 / 5:43 PM / in 8 years

Timeline: Key dates in Airbus-Boeing subsidy dispute

(Reuters) - The World Trade Organization delivered a final ruling on Monday on whether Boeing benefited from unfair U.S. subsidies to develop airliners in competition with Europe’s Airbus.

The confidential ruling was delivered to the parties and will not be published for several weeks or months.

Meanwhile, the WTO’s appellate body is reviewing an appeal by the EU and U.S. into a ruling in a related case that Airbus benefited from illegal EU subsidies.

Here is a timeline of the dispute between Airbus and Boeing.

October 2004 - Washington files a case challenging European loans to help Airbus develop aircraft and terminates a 1992 civil aircraft agreement covering government support for the two top aircraft manufacturers.

— The EU files a counter-complaint against U.S. support for Boeing.

December 2004 - Airbus wins shareholder approval to start seeking orders for a fuel-saving, wide-body plane to be called the A350, unleashing a fresh marketing battle against Boeing.

— Airbus says it is entitled to apply for a third of the A350 development cost under a 1992 European Union-United States trade deal, but Boeing maintains that deal is dead.

March 2005 - The United States and Europe trade accusations in an escalation of the dispute over subsidies.

— Washington wants Europe to stop providing “launch aid” loans to Airbus, worth about $15 billion since 1967. Brussels argues Boeing benefits from its own form of aid, such as Washington state tax breaks and federal government contracts.

May 2005 - The United States reactivates its WTO case against European subsidies for Airbus after fresh efforts to reach a negotiated settlement with Brussels fail. The EU says the next day it will reactivate its legal case against U.S. support for aircraft maker Boeing in a tit-for-tat riposte.

July 2005 - The WTO launches twin probes into state aid for Boeing and Airbus in what is billed as the biggest trade dogfight ever but both Washington and Brussels reaffirm they are still ready to negotiate a deal.

August 2005 - The U.S. administration urges Britain not to pledge government support to Airbus.

September 2005 - Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert says he is confident European governments will lend the plane maker almost 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to develop its A350.

July 2006 - Airbus unveils a $10 billion revamp of its planned A350 aircraft and says it will seek government aid from its partner countries, Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

June 15, 2009 - Airbus takes a step closer to winning government loans as Britain, France, Germany and Spain say they aim to decide by the end of June how much money they are prepared to put up to help the A350 project.

— Germany is prepared to provide 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) and France will contribute 1.4 billion.

— Boeing says government financing would violate WTO rules.

August 14, 2009 - Britain pledges 340 million pounds ($510 million) in loans.

Aug 27, 2009 - Boeing says it hopes the preliminary WTO panel ruling will force European governments to reconsider plans to help finance the Airbus A350.

September 4, 2010 - WTO panel issues interim ruling in U.S. case against Airbus to the parties. Various sources say the panel found EU aid amounted to unfair subsidies and in some cases violated a tougher ban on export subsidies, but rejected some U.S. complaints.

March 8, 2010 - Northrop Grumman, which was bidding for a $50 billion U.S. refueling aircraft contract with EADS, withdraws from the tanker contest leaving the field open to Boeing, and prompting complaints of U.S. protectionism by EU leaders.

March 22, 2010 - Germany confirms it is ready to provide 1.1 billion euros’ worth of funding to Airbus for the A350.

March 23, 2010 - Confidential WTO report into European subsidies for Airbus tells EU to end illegal export subsidies.

June 30, 2010 - WTO report into Airbus is published. Panel condemns illegal export subsidies and said Airbus relied on subsidies to develop passenger aircraft.

July 21, 2010 - EU appeals against ruling in Airbus case.

Aug 19, 2010 - United States appeals against ruling in Airbus case.

Sept 16, 2010 - WTO hands confidential interim report on subsidies for Boeing to United States and EU. Both sides express satisfaction at the ruling.

Sept 22, 2010 - WTO appeal court says it will not rule on appeal over Airbus ruling until 2011.

Jan 17, 2011 - Airbus receives more orders than Boeing in 2010 for the third year running.

Jan 27, 2011 - U.S. Air Force says both Boeing and EADS dealt correctly with a USAF mix-up, in which the rivals received data on each other’s bids, in their pitch for a $25-50 billion refueling tanker contract. The USAF is due to award the contract in the coming weeks or months.

January 31, 2011 - WTO delivers its report to participants in the transatlantic row over airline subsidies.

(For more on the Boeing case click on)

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit and Jonathan Lynn

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