MUNICH, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Slow German government export approvals are holding up Airbus Defence & Space (AIR.PA) defence exports worth several billions of euros, the company’s chief executive said on Sunday, urging Berlin to speed up the process.
“Several countries are interested in the (military transport plane) A400M. Unfortunately we are having difficulties to get the German export licences on time,” Michael Schoellhorn told Reuters in an interview at the Munich Security Conference.
“Our problem is that we haven’t received any contracts yet from the Zeitenwende and important exports are not being approved. This puts us in a very unsatisfactory situation,” Schoellhorn said.
He was referring to a 100-billion-euro ($107 billion) special fund set up last year to bring the military back up to scratch after Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a “Zeitenwende” or sea change in security policy days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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“We cannot put up with the constant delays (in export procedures). Planning security is essential,” Schoellhorn said.
He said orders for several products, not only the A400M, were stuck with the government in Berlin but declined to give details – although he offered a rough estimate of the financial volume.
“In total, we are talking about several billion euros,” he said.
On the loss-making A400M, Schoellhorn said he expected no further significant charges due to industrial problems in future if developments continued as they had in the past years, after Airbus results showed another 500-million-euro charge on Thursday.
He added that the company should eventually receive partial payments that customers held back.
Asked whether in future space developments Europe will have to fall back on Elon Musk’s SpaceX company following Airbus Defence & Space’s loss of two satellites on a Vega C rocket, Schoellhorn said any such solution would be temporary.
“Depending on the mission, we will have to temporarily use other launchers, whether they will come from SpaceX or somewhere else we will have to see,” he said. “But we don’t want to do this over the long haul.”
(This story has been refiled to add dropped name in paragraph 2)
Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise