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France Earmarks $16.9 Billion to Save Aviation

In order to keep aviation giants Airbus and Air France aloft, the French government will inject over $16 billion in funds in the two industries. The “plan de relance” is poised to save jobs and drive the industry forward through new innovations.

The Government of France is stepping in to save jobs and drive innovation forward at two major aviation players: carrier Air France and manufacturer Airbus. France 24 reports the nation will inject $16.9 billion (15 million Euros) into both groups in order to keep them aloft during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “Plan de Relance”

The financial “plan de relance” was announced in Paris by national finance minster Bruno Le Marie. Noting the devastation on the aviation sector due to the novel Coronavirus outbreak, Le Marie noted that the investment would save between 100,000 and 300,000 “direct and indirect jobs in the sector.”

Part of the money will go directly to the flag carrier’s parent company Air France-KLM, which will allow them to complete purchases of more Airbus airframes. In addition to the $7.86 billion loan guaranteed to the company, the additional funding will finance 60 A220 and 38 A350 aircraft.

The loan is not limited to commercial aircraft. The money will also accelerate the purchase of military aircraft, including helicopters and three A330 airframes which will be converted for refueling purposes.

In a press statement, Airbus thanked the government for assisting them with the extra finances. The Toulouse-based manufacturer notes the money will help shore up the current impact of COVID-19.

“We welcome the strong plan announced today by the French government,” the company said in a statement. “It represents an important milestone for both our commercial aircraft business, which is facing a significant reduction in production of around 40%, as well as for our defense businesses which protect national sovereignty.”

Companies Must Go Green With Investment

While the money is set to shore up some current issues, the government also wants all parties to think about their position in reducing emissions. The government plan will set aside $1.69 billion in funds for research towards a “carbon-neutral” aircraft. The goal is to have the aircraft flying in 15 years.

In addition, the government will partner with Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Safran to create a fund to support green aviation initiatives. The partnership, along with private investors, plan to set aside up to $561 million for sustainable aviation technologies.

“The research and technology component of this plan will serve as a strong and much needed accelerator in the transition towards the decarbonisation of air transport,” Airbus noted in their statement. “Airbus will continue its leading role in the mission to present the first “zero emission” commercial aircraft by 2035.”

Air France-KLM is already working towards reducing carbon emissions and improving environmental sustainability. In 2017, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launched a plan towards a renewable fleet, while creating a passenger initiative to offset their carbon footprint created by the flight.