EADS Begs For Funding For Airbus A400M

Chief exec Louis Gallois called for increased funding for the four-engine turboprop, which is now four years behind schedule and more than $7.3 billion over budget.

BERLIN (AP) -- EADS chief Louis Gallois insisted in an interview published Sunday that the seven partner nations participating in the A400M military transport plane must decide on the project's future by the end of January.

Gallois said in interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine weekly that the project was worth fighting for and that EADS was ready to cooperate.

"We are ready to work constructively on a solution that is acceptable for all sides," Gallois told the paper.

He called on the participating nations to increase their funding for the four-engine turboprop, which officials say is now four years behind schedule and more than euro5 billion (US$7.3 billion) over budget.

"The A400M, even at a higher price, is still more modern and more flexible than the American competition," Gallois was quoted as saying.

The A400M, a four-engine turboprop, is seen as inhabiting an important niche market between the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules, which carries only half the payload, and Boeing's C-17 Globemaster III, which is larger, costlier, and less tactically versatile.

Germany has been especially reticent about plowing any more funds into the plane and Britain almost pulled out last year, before renewing its support.

The A400M had its maiden flight last month. The program was launched six years ago with an order for 180 airplanes from seven governments -- Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.

Last week government envoys met in London to discuss how the project would go forward.

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