Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: Airbus


The tanker goes to Boeing, comes to Washington

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington needs all the morale boosts it can get right now. It got a big one Thursday when Boeing won the $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tankers.

Hooray for the home team, or something like that. The Boeing Co. is now headquartered in Chicago, but most of the expected 11,000 tanker-dependent jobs will be created in Western Washington; perhaps 1,000 of those jobs will go to Kansas.

The planned gas-station-in-the-sky will be a modified version of the 767, an old model Boeing had planned to

Read more »


A Boeing-Daley-Rahm axis?

U.S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby hails from Alabama, one of the states that lost big potential payrolls when the Air Force decided to award the Boeing Co. the $35 billion contract to build a new fleet of aerial refueling tankers.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” he told The New York Times. “Only Chicago politics could tip the scales in favor of Boeing’s inferior plane. EADS clearly offers the more capable aircraft. If this decision stands, our warfighters will not get the superior equipment they deserve.”

There’s always a political subtext when a federal contract this immense is up

Read more »


This time, let’s have a non-botched tanker decision

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The third time’s a charm – we devoutly hope – with the Air Force’s snake-bit effort to replace its ancient KC-135 aerial refueling tankers.

Last Thursday, The Boeing Co. and its archrival European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. submitted yet another pair of bids for the $35 billion-plus contract to build America’s next tanker. The Pentagon expects to pick a winner fairly quickly, perhaps in a matter of weeks.

Anticipation is high, and not just because of the money and jobs at stake. No one can be quite sure the Air Force won’t blow this decision once more.

Aerial refueling is the linchpin of most of America’s global military operations, and it is approaching the breaking point.

The oldest KC-135s rolled out more than a half century ago, when color television was a rare novelty. The military was supposed to start getting new planes five years ago.

But the first attempt to award the contract collapsed in a corruption scandal, and the second fell apart in 2008 when auditors discovered that the Air Force had made billion-dollar blunders when it awarded the work to EADS.
Read more »


The WTO makes the case against an Airbus tanker

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Is that all you got, WTO?

Americans rooting for the Boeing Co.’s success have been waiting apprehensively for a World Trade Organization’s ruling on whether the U.S. government has been unfairly subsidizing the aerospace company’s commercial jets.

The answer, announced last week, was yes. According to the arbiters of international free trade, Boeing’s jets have benefited from about $5 billion in illegal assistance.

Two billion dollars of that is a 10-year-old, recycled complaint about a federal tax advantage that has long since been rescinded. The remainder, roughly $3 billion, includes

Read more »


WTO ruling against Airbus is a win for fairness

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The United States took a risk five years ago when it decided to press a trade dispute alleging European Union countries were providing illegal subsidies to Boeing’s rival.

The gamble paid off – at least for now.

The World Trade Organization ruled this week that Airbus benefited from improper government loans made at below-market interest rates.
Without the government support, the panel concluded, the European company would have had to take on massive debt and would have been a “much weaker” company ill positioned to build the A380 superjumbo jet.

The aerospace giant also might not have been able to vault past Boeing in 2003. The illegal subsidies allowed Airbus to offer more models than it might otherwise have, costing Boeing market share in some countries. The WTO found that Boeing suffered substantial lost sales from 2001 to 2006.

“The governments of France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom have caused serious prejudice to the United States’ interests,” the ruling said.

Read more »


No more do-overs for Air Force tanker

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

At some point, the Air Force will replace its Eisenhower-era fleet of aerial refueling tankers. Just don’t count on it happening anytime soon.

On Friday, Pentagon officials said they will consider extending a May deadline to allow a European aviation giant to bid for the $35 billion tanker contract.

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. isn’t sure it wants to bid, mind you. EADS, the parent company of Boeing rival Airbus, is just looking for more time to weigh its options.

Three additional months, to be exact. Three additional months, in a controversy-riddled saga that’s been unfolding for nearly nine years. By the time the Air Force could get around to awarding a contract, the process would have stretched nearly a decade.

Read more »


WTO ruling a moral victory for Boeing

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The World Trade Organization is reportedly close to announcing what Boeing supporters have long known: Airbus doesn’t play by the rules.

The WTO’s preliminary ruling, according to Washington state lawmakers briefed about it, confirms that launch aid received from four European nations amounted to illegal subsidies.

The trade arbiter reportedly found that European aid had benefited every model Airbus had produced by 2004 – and that the subsidies harmed its U.S. arch-rival, Boeing.

Vindication feels good, but a WTO ruling could be a victory in name only. Theoretically, the United States could raise tariffs or impose other barriers to EU imports years from now when the WTO case is finally settled, but that’s probably unlikely.

Read more »