US and EU airlines decry government aid to rivals


NEW YORK — U.S. and European airlines on Wednesday joined forces to press governments to halt assistance to rival carriers buying Boeing and Airbus jets, an official said Wednesday. The 16 members of the U.S. Air Transportation Association and nine leading European airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa and Iberia, have agreed to appeal to key U.S. and European officials to halt loan guarantees, the source told AFP. The loan guarantees encourage foreign airlines to buy airplanes, thus boosting the U.S. and European economies. But the European and American airlines say the aid is threatening them since they do not benefit from similar assistance. “We write to express our deep concern … that the ability of U.S. airlines to continue their contribution to growth in U.S. exports and the economic recovery is being profoundly threatened by a flood of official export credits for large civil aircraft purchases by our foreign competitors,” the carriers wrote in a letter to be sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Similarly, the European companies plan to urge their respective officials that the loans have caused “a major distortion of competition.”