French minister presses Air France to prefer Airbus

PARIS, June 14, 2011 (AFP) - France's foreign trade secretary said Tuesday he would meet the head of Air France, hinting he would press him to buy French-made Airbuses rather than US Boeings for its next big long-haul order.

"I am going to ask Mr (Pierre-Henri) Gourgeon to come and see me," the junior minister, Pierre Lellouche, told AFP.

He added that he expected the airline to "return the favour" after he "helped it a lot when it had problems with Brussels," he said, without elaborating.

"The French state is a 15-percent stakeholder in Air France-KLM," Lellouche said, adding that French jobs would benefit from a massive order of aircraft from the European planemaker, based in France.

Lawmakers have launched a petition pressing the national carrier to prefer the big Airbus A350 to the Boeing 787 when it places its next order, expected to be for 100 such long-haul carriers worth tens of billions of dollars.

Other news