martes, junio 16, 2009

The absence of Spain from a top-level meeting over financing for the latest Airbus wide-body jet set off a flurry of speculation Tuesday about Madrid’s commitment to the project at a time when tensions are already high because of delays to the Spanish-built Airbus military transport.

A spokesman for Spain’s industry ministry on Tuesday put the move down to nothing more than a scheduling snarl, but that did not stop some observers from reading the incident as a snub.

Economy ministers from Britain, France and Germany met Monday to discuss providing about 3.3 billion euros, or $4.6 billion, in loans to development the Airbus A350-XWB, a long-range, plane that seats 250 to 300. France and Germany later said that they would provide loans worth 1.4 billion euros and 1.1. billion euros. Britain affirmed its commitment to the project, saying it would announce the amount of its contribution within a month.

But Theresa Santero Quintillá, Spain’s secretary of state for industry, did not come to the meeting, and did not provide a reason for more than 24 hours — leaving executives of Airbus and its parent, European Aeronautic Defense and Space, to wonder whether there was a larger message.