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Airbus Argues Against Sanctions

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Economists sometimes warn about “regulatory capture,” which happens when a company becomes so important that it can influence the bureaucrats who are supposed to be supervising it. Over in Europe, aerospace manufacturer Airbus seems to be taking this concept to the next level. It doesn’t want to capture only the regulators; it wants to issue orders to the actual governments that fund it.

Airbus makes planes, both civilian and military. The company exists because European governments pay large subsidies to keep it in business, even though these subsidies are illegal. “In 2018, the WTO’s appeals body upheld a 2016 ruling that the EU had supported Airbus with subsidized loans for the development of new aircraft — the A380 superjumbo and the A350 twin-aisle jet,” Germany’s Deutsche Welle explains. “The world body also found that the loans, which were repayable on delivery, amounted to illegal assistance.” Instead of gratefully accepting those subsidies, Airbus is trying to change European Union policy toward Russia.

The world is at war, and Airbus has an important part to play. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is threatening peace throughout the continent, and the governments that fund Airbus are on the front lines. So far, their response has been economic: they have imposed punishing sanctions aimed at forcing Russia to retreat.

Current sanctions include commodities such as oil and natural gas, because Russia makes most of its money by exporting commodities. It also exports a lot of metal, including titanium. Titanium is important because it is strong and flexible, and because it can be combined with other substances. It is also somewhat rare and difficult to obtain.

That is where Airbus comes in. The company gets most of its titanium from Russian sources. Today, more than five months into Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Airbus “is pushing against sanctions on Russian titanium sales, amid a flurry of restrictions on the export of other Russian goods ranging from vodka to steel,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

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“We think sanctioning titanium from Russia would be sanctioning ourselves,” Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury told reporters during a recent conference covered by the WSJ. He claims that titanium sales are “one of the few areas of business where it is in the interest of no party to disrupt the current situation.”

Well, the sanctions are causing trouble and disruption everywhere. Anyone who has filled a gas tank in the past six months has watched fuel prices soar, for example. But the world agrees there is a price to pay to punish Russian aggression.

Other major players in the aerospace field have stopped using Russian titanium. These include American companies GE and Raytheon. In fact, GE stopped sourcing from Russia in 2014, when that country invaded Crimea. That is forward thinking.

There is titanium available elsewhere, even potentially in the U.S., although there are no domestic operations right now. In the longer term, it would make sense to ramp up domestic supplies and shorten supply lines. But in the short term, the world needs to cut Russia off completely and stop funding its military by buying its titanium. Airbus needs to get behind that policy immediately and stop undermining the international effort to bring Moscow to heel.

Most companies that engage in illegal activity try to remain below the radar. Airbus, on the other hand, seems perfectly happy to call attention to itself. Instead of weaning itself off Russian metal, it is demanding that EU governments do its bidding and allow Russia to export titanium. The rest of the world needs to stand against Russia. Right now, that means standing against Airbus as well.

Tim Tapp is the host of the syndicated, conservative talk show “Tapp” into the Truth. He calls East Tennessee home, where he broadcasts and writes. He also still works in Quality Assurance for a food manufacturing company as he takes up the cause of defending our republic. Find out more at

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