France launched what it said was a 15 billion euro ($17 billion) rescue plan for its aerospace industry on Tuesday, warning 100,000 jobs were directly at stake due to the coronavirus crisis travel slump.
The package, which includes some already announced measures, includes an investment fund starting at 500 million euros with a target of 1 billion to boost the development of medium-sized suppliers, and 300 million euros of other aid to help aerospace sub-contractors modernize plants.
"We must save our aerospace industry," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as he presented the aid plan, adding Europe would not sacrifice its place on the world market — symbolized by France-based planemaker Airbus — to U.S giant Boeing or China's upcoming planemaking competitor COMAC.
France will also invest 1.5 billion euros over three years to support research into new environmentally friendly aviation technology, of which 300 million will be available this year.
"In total, this plan will represent more than 15 billion euros of aid, investment, loans and guarantees," the government said in a statement. The total includes 7 billion euros of aid already announced for Air France and an acceleration of existing orders for Airbus tankers and other military kit.
The government was also talking to banks about how suppliers could manage surplus parts left stranded in the pipeline after decisions by Airbus and other manufacturers to slow production.
France said it had agreed a one-year moratorium on the repayment of the principal of aircraft loans backed by export credit agencies from March 2020 with Britain, Germany and Italy - a move worth 1.5 billion euros.