PARIS (AP) – The French government announced Tuesday 15 billion euros (16.9 billion dollars) in rescue aid for the aerospace industry plagued by a pandemic, including the aircraft manufacturer Airbus and the national airline Air France.
The finance, transport, defense and environment ministers have unveiled a rescue plan for an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people in France, whose livelihoods have been plunged into uncertainty in because of travel restrictions caused by the virus.
In exchange for this aid, companies will have to invest more and faster in low-emission electric, hydrogen or other aircraft, because France intends to make its aeronautical industry “the cleanest in the world”.
“We will do everything in our power to support this French industry, which is so crucial to our sovereignty, our jobs and our economy,” said Minister of Finance Bruno Le Maire.
Money includes direct government investment, grants, loans and loan guarantees. It also includes a special fund jointly funded by the government, Airbus and other large manufacturers to support small suppliers.
It includes 7 billion euros in loans and loan guarantees that the government had already promised to Air France, whose planes were almost entirely immobilized by the virus.
Airlines around the world have asked for government bailouts as they struggle to survive the virtual shutdown of their operations caused by the virus.
Airbus said it was cutting output from 35% to 40%, and rival Boeing announced when the virus was closed that it would cut 10% of its 161,000 employees through attrition, advance offers and layoffs.
“The recovery will be long,” warned Le Maire. The government has predicted that it will be 2023 before the industry reaches pre-crisis levels.