News Releases

Murray Praises GAO Dismissal of Airbus Attempt to Undermine Boeing 737 Lease

Mar 26 2003

General Accounting Office calls Airbus bid protest "without merit."

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Senator Patty Murray was notified today by the General Accounting Office (GAO) that the agency has dismissed a Bid Protest filed by Airbus to halt a plan for the U.S. government to lease four Boeing 737s. The lease was approved by Congress and the President in 2001.

Senator Murray was a leading proponent of the legislative effort to authorize the Air Force to lease four Boeing 737s and 100 Boeing 767s in the Fiscal Year 2002 Defense Appropriations Act (Section 8159). Under this authorization, the Air Force has already executed the lease of two Boeing 737/C-40 aircraft in September, 2002.

The Fiscal Year 2003 Defense Appropriations Act contained language on the "leasing of transport/VIP aircraft" offered by Senator John McCain. The McCain language sought to deny funding to "any contract entered into under any procurement procedures other than pursuant to the Competition in Contracting Act." Based on this language, Airbus sought to halt the already executed Boeing 737 lease and force the Air Force to consider purchasing Airbus aircraft.

But today the GAO dismissed the Airbus protest, calling it "without merit."

"In its continued attempts to weaken the U.S. aerospace industry, Airbus will try anything," Murray said. "The law authorizing this lease was very specific and both the Air Force and Boeing followed the law. Airbus and its congressional backers continue to look for avenues to equip the U.S. armed forces with French built aircraft.

"I continue to believe that the U.S. government and the U.S. military should fly U.S. aircraft. I am delighted that the GAO has confirmed that Airbus' protest of the Boeing 737 lease is without merit," Murray continued.

While the 737 lease is a relatively small transaction for Boeing and the Air Force, some believe that Airbus was using the 737 protest in an attempt to open up the 100-plane 767 tanker deal.