EADS open to adjusting U.S. tanker bid

By Reuters
Posted Sep. 14, 2010 at 9:19 a.m.

European aerospace group EADS is open to adjusting the price of its refueling aircraft bid if the Air Force asks for final proposal changes, but will still see significant profit from the bid, the company’s U.S. chairman said on Tuesday.

The Air Force has been evaluating rival bids from EADS and Boeing in a competition valued at up to $50 billion, since July, with an eye to awarding a contract this fall.

Ralph Crosby, chairman of the North American unit of Europe’s EADS, said he expected the Air Force to ask bidders to submit final proposal revisions once it concluded the current phase, in which Air Force officials ask the companies specific questions about their bids and they respond.

Crosby, told reporters at an Air Force Association meeting that he remained convinced that EADS’ A330-based tanker offered the Air Force a better value for its money, and posed less risk than Boeing’s 767-based tanker, given that EADS is already building a very similar A330 tanker for four countries.

Boeing’s proposal, Crosby said, centered on a new 767-based tanker that was different from the refueling planes it has built for Italy and Japan.

EADS could adjust the price of its bid up or down, Crosby said, depending on any Air Force request, but he underscored that his company was determined to make money on the deal if it won.

Boeing supporters in Congress have accused the Airbus parent company of preparing to engage in dumping with the help of European subsidies by offering less expensive planes to win the politically sensitive contest for 179 refueling planes.

EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois told Reuters last week that the company was not ready to “kill the price” although it was competing aggressively to win the high-stakes competition.

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