Airbus CEO urges ceasefire in trade war and easing travel ban for Covid

The head of European aircraft manufacturer Airbus on Saturday called for a “ceasefire” in a transatlantic trade war over aircraft subsidies, saying mutual tariffs on plans and other goods had exacerbated the damage from the COVID-19 crisis.

Washington has gradually imposed a 15% import duty on Airbus aircraft starting in 2019 after a prolonged dispute at the World Trade Organization, and the European Union responded with matching tariffs on Boeing planes a year later. Wine, whiskey, and other commodities are affected, too.

“This dispute, which has now become an old one, has put us in a losing position,” Airbus CEO Guillaume Fawry said in a radio interview.

He told France International: “We ended up in a situation where wisdom usually dictates that we have a ceasefire and resolve this conflict.”

Boeing was not immediately available for comment.

Brazil, which has fought separate battles with Canada over support for smaller regional jets, on Thursday dropped its complaint against Ottawa and called for a global peace deal among producing nations on aviation support.

Fury said the row with Boeing was particularly harmful during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected air travel and led to travel restrictions or border closures. She has expressed particular concern about extending the ban within Europe.

“We are very frustrated by the barriers that restrict personal movement, and it is almost impossible today to travel in Europe by plane, even locally,” he said.

“The # 1 priority for countries in general is to reopen borders and allow people to travel on the basis of tests and eventually vaccinations.”

The comments come as companies increase pressure on governments to reopen economies as the Coronavirus vaccine is increasingly released across Europe.

France has defended its recently introduced border restrictions, saying it will help the government avoid a new lockdown and stay in place at least until the end of February.

Germany put border controls in place with the Czech Republic and Austria last Sunday, sparking protests from Austria and concerns about supply chain disruptions.

Berlin describes the move as a temporary measure to be used as a last resort.

Poland said on Saturday that it had not ruled out imposing restrictions on its borders with Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to the high incidence of COVID-19.

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