HL Deb 21 December 1989 vol 514 cc341-2

11.14 a.m.

The Viscount of Oxfuird asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many firm orders for the Airbus series of aircraft have now been received.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, I understand from Airbus Industrie that a total of 1,342 firm orders for Airbus aircraft had been received by Airbus Industrie as of 15th December. This is an increase of 425 over last year and gives Airbus Industrie a 23 per cent. share of the market for large civil aircraft for the past 12 months.

The Viscount of Oxfuird

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that encouraging reply, particularly at this festive season. Can he advise us what the original launch aid sum of money was and when it is anticipated that Airbus will break even?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the launch, aid has been a continuous phenomenon, if I may describe it like that, although that is not quite an accurate description. A number of different sums of launch aid money have been provided at various times. As my noble friend will recall, the United Kingdom is now a 20 per cent. partner in the programme. The launch aid paid to British Aerospace in connection with the A320, for example, was £250 million. That was fully repayable through lump sum repayments and levies on aircraft sales. Up to £450 million will be available for the A330/A340. That sum is also fully repayable with a real rate of return. Of that £450 million, about £140 million has been paid so far.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, I join the noble Viscount in welcoming the success of the various series of aircraft made by Airbus Industrie. Is it not the case that British Aerospace always refers, quite rightly, in glowing terms in its publication Flightpath to its contribution to the aircraft of various aircraft industries? How many men are employed as a result of the United Kingdom's 20 per cent. partnership in the Airbus programme, not only by British Aerospace itself but also by the component industries?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord those figures without notice, but they clearly represent a substantial number of people. British Aerospace has been principally involved, as the noble Lord will recall, in the manufacture of the wings of the Airbus family of aircraft. It appears that that company will be able to sustain a considerable number of jobs in that programme for many years ahead.

The Viscount of Oxfuird

My Lords, will my noble friend tell us how the new long-range A340 series of Airbus will perform in real tems as regards the airlines?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, that aircraft has yet to fly in prototype form, but it is anticipated that it will have a range of some 7,450 miles, which should enable it to fly non-stop to Australia.