Paris: France and Germany have decided to delay for six months a decision on the future of the problem-plagued Airbus A400M military transport plane, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday.
Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the fate of the plane being built by Airbus, a subsidiary of European aerospace giant EADS, during a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace.
“We talked about the A400M and decided that it would be good to give ourselves a small delay of six months to continue discussions and to find the best possible solution,” said Sarkozy at a joint news conference.
The A400M was initially scheduled to start being delivered at the end of 2009 but the programme has suffered from a delay of at least three years and clients have threatened to cancel their orders.
The military transport plane was unveiled last year but it has been hit by delays in building its massive turbo-prop engines, putting the 20-billion-euro (28-billion-dollar) project at risk.
Spain, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Turkey are participating in the A400M programme.
“We are in full agreement… We will give ourselves a few more months and then we will see,” said Merkel, who added that France and Germany “need a transport plane in any case.”
French Defence Minister Herve Morin said this month that there would likely be a meeting of ministers from the seven participating countries and EADS to renegotiate the delivery contracts.