News Releases

WA Lawmakers Call on Defense Department to Consider Illegal, Market Distorting Airbus Subsidies in Tanker Competition

Nov 18 2009

Delegation expresses serious concerns about illegal launch aid; calls on Administration to not penalize American aerospace workers

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell U.S. Representative Norm Dicks, U.S. Representative Jay Inslee, and U.S. Representative Dave Reichert  joined a multi-state, bi-partisan, bi-cameral group of lawmakers to call on the Defense Department to level the playing field and take into account the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling when requesting bids for the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tanker. The group highlighted the reported September WTO ruling that the European Union has illegally subsidized development costs of the Airbus aircraft, and urged the Administration to allow American workers to compete for the tanker contract on a level playing field.

“When I talk to aerospace workers back home in Washington state I want to be able to tell them they are competing on a level playing field,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I know our workers will win a fair and transparent competition, and I urge the Department of Defense to do the right thing and consider illegal, unfair subsidies in the final tanker contract request.”

“We want good old fashioned competition to prevail, and for that to happen, European Launch Aid must end. This is critical not only in the tanker case but will become increasingly important as other countries develop their own aerospace sectors. The WTO ruling helps us make this case,” Senator Maria Cantwell said. “Failing to account for the massive subsidies granted to Airbus would put Boeing at a huge disadvantage in the competition and set a damaging precedent for all future competitions involving illegal subsidies. This is not what American workers deserve.”

“The position of the United States government – now endorsed by the WTO-- is that the commercial aircraft on which the Airbus tanker bid is based has received unfair government subsidies.  And now the Defense Department appears to want ignore the position that U.S. Trade Representative has taken in an international dispute.  All we are seeking here is a level playing field for American industry and American workers to compete,” said Congressman Norm Dicks.

 “We ask American workers and American families to play by the rules every day, we shouldn’t expect less with this tanker competition,” said Congressman Jay Inslee.  “In the international market place we have a rules based trading system.  It is important to recognize and enforce those rules for this competition to be fair.  Continuing as is would be like the SEC offering Bernie Madoff a consulting contract while the Justice department tries him in court.”

“With more than 22,000 Boeing workers in my district, this is a critical issue for our local economy and thousands of workers across Washington State,” said Congressman Dave Reichert. “The Department of Defense has pledged a fair and transparent process, so it must evaluate every angle when awarding a contract for military equipment. Billions of dollars in European ‘launch aid’ subsidies have given Airbus a grossly unfair competitive advantage in the global marketplace. The Department of Defense must consider this as they make the tanker contract decision. I believe that if given a fair shake in this process, the people of Boeing will build the Air Force’s new KC-767 Tankers.”