Airbus criticises Berlin for its export ban on fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia

Airbus’ head has criticized the German government for its ban on the export of new Eurofighter aircraft from Saudi Arabia. He warns that this is damaging to the reputation of the country as an exporter.

Guillaume Faury is the chief executive officer of the pan-European Aerospace and Defence group. He said Berlin’s position was “damaging to the Eurofighter, but also damaging to the reputation of Germany as a country that exports goods”.

Berlin is under pressure to relax its export restrictions to Saudi Arabia from its Eurofighter partners, including the UK. The UK wants to get a new Saudi order.

While a majority of Eurofighter parts are produced by BAE Systems UK, others come from other partner nations, including Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Berlin has, however, refused to grant arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia due to its involvement in Yemen and the murder of US-Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, has refused to allow delivery of the aircrafts. The Greens, Scholz’ coalition partner, are strongly against the move.

Faury stated that while he saw a “positive tendency” in easing the situation, it was not “going at the pace [we] would need or at least at the one [we] would consider necessary at Airbus”.

He told reporters that the company was “calling on clear and visible decision to be able exports into Saudi Arabia of the Eurofighter, which we believe would be something that makes sense”.

Faury intervened after the group reported higher revenues and earnings in the third quarter. It also reaffirmed plans to deliver at least 720 commercial aircraft by the end the year, despite supply chain problems.

Airbus delivered 559 planes by the end October. It still has 161 planes left to deliver if it wants to meet its goal. Deliveries usually increase in the final two months of each year.

As international travel is on the rise, the plane maker will also increase production of its widebody A350 aircraft from nine per month to 10 per month in 2026.

Faury stated that the company would still produce 75 A320 narrow body aircraft by 2026 despite problems with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

Airbus reaffirmed its plans to restructure its Defence and Space division. It reported new charges of €300mn for “certain satellite development programs”.

Faury stated that the defence activities of the company remained crucial to the group. He said that the restructuring was aimed at improving accountability and competitiveness.

Revenues rose by 12 percent to €14.9bn, and adjusted operating profits were €1.013bn, an increase of 21 per cent.

Airbus remained on track with its forecast of adjusted earnings before interest, tax and mergers and acquisitions of €6bn and free cashflow — before customer financing and mergers and purchases — of €3bn over the full year ending in December.