Paris: European aerospace and defence giant EADS said Monday it remained committed to the A400M aircraft programme, trying to remove uncertainty after Tom Enders, the head of its Airbus unit, which is currently saddled with all EADS's military aviation related work, was quoted as saying his company would not be able to complete the military transport plane programme.
"EADS confirms that it remains fully committed to the construction of the A400M," the company said in a statement.
Spiegel Online in an interview on Sunday with Airbus CEO Tom Enders quoted him as saying that the manufacturer could not build the A400M "under the current conditions," and that it would be better to make a painful break than stretch out the pain.
The CEO was also quoted as saying Enders was quoted as saying he would not make a "pilgrimage to Berlin or Paris to plead for a continuation of the program under conditions that are not acceptable to us."
The A400M programme is running 3-4 years late, according to the manufacturer, and 5 years according to at least one of the seven European NATO nations that are the customers for the aircraft.
The programme is intended to renew aging transport fleets.
"The group reaffirms that the contract signed in 2003 does not provide the necessary conditions for the successful development of the program," EADS said, citing an "unrealistic timetable."
"EADS wishes that the three months moratorium period as proposed by OCCAR be used by all partners of the program to put it back on tracks within conditions acceptable by all parties," it said.
Procurement agency OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d'Armement) is responsible for centralizing the European order for 180 planes. Another 12 orders have been booked for export.
OCCAR is composed of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. For this project it has Luxembourg and Turkey as additional members.
Airbus has blamed companies supplying the A400M's massive turbo-prop engines for the delay. It faces the prospect of paying billions of euros in penalties for the delays.
OCCAR-backed talks, expected to be announced this week, will be aimed at discussing if delivery penalties could be waived.
Britain, meanwhile, has said it would consider a new order for Boeing's C-17 military transport aircraft because of the long-running delays to the A400M programme. A spokesman for the ministry of defence said, "We are naturally concerned by delays to the A400M programme and ... the MoD is considering various contingency plans including procuring additional assets for example C-17."
At 20 billion euros, the A400M is Europe's largest single arms procurement programme.