Airbus fights exclusion from U.S. aerospace lobby

WASHINGTON, Wed Sep 5, 2012 – Airbus has clashed with the U.S. aerospace industry over whether it should be allowed to join its top domestic lobbying group, weeks after announcing plans to set up jet assembly in Alabama.

Boeing’s main rival says its parent, European aerospace group EADS, should be allowed to take a seat alongside flagship UK firms Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems because it has facilities in the U.S. and already employs thousands of local workers.

It plans to add 1,000 more aerospace industry jobs by assembling some of its A320 jets in Mobile, Ala., from 2016.

But it was rebuffed by the head of the Aerospace Industries Association, who said membership of the 93-year-old club was reserved for companies without foreign government ownership.

EADS is 15-percent owned by the French government and is in the throes of seeing a similar stake being acquired by Germany.

“Remember, this is the Aerospace Industry Association of America. We go back to (U.S. aviation pioneers) Orville Wright and Glenn Curtiss, who founded this almost a hundred years ago,” AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey told Reuters.

“We are here to represent the interests of the United States (industry) and we do not believe it’s appropriate for foreign governments to use AIA to lobby our own,” she added.

The U.S. units of Thales and Safran two defense companies controlled by the French state, are listed as associate members, which grants a more limited access to alerts and networking.