Austria is planning to sue Airbus and Eurofighter GmbH over the troubled contract for 15 Eurofighter jets in 2007, according to news reports from Austria. An investigation by the ministry of Defense in Vienna has shown that fraud was likely involved in the deal, which was worth 1.75 billion EUR. In a response, Airbus said it is ‘surprised’.
In 2003, Austria was about to purchase a total of 18 Eurofighters for 2 billion EUR, with offset orders worth 4 billion EUR also part of the deal. After a change of government, the Alpine country wanted to back out of the deal, but after much hassle a deal was finally closed in 2007 for 15 Eurofighters against a 250 million EUR price reduction.
An investigation has been running since 2012 and has now found out that fraud was likely involved. Payments worth many millions of euro’s were made to firms that only existed on paper. The Austrian government is now seeking compensation in a court case.
Airbus later on Thursday said the Austrian government never dicussed the findings with the company, and that it only learned about the allegations through the media. Airbus also states it ‘cannot see any foundation’ for the allegation of fraud, but nevertheless will ‘support the authorities in investigating concrete suspicions’.
Austrian Airlines has sold its entire fleet of 15 Fokker 100 and six Fokker 70 aircraft to Alliance Aviation Services Limited in Australia, making that company the largest operator of both types. In Austria, Embraer 195 jets will take the place of the Fokkers starting next January, rejuvenating the airline’s mediumhaul fleet.
The transaction is valued at 15 million USD and includes an issue of new shares in Alliance and a cash component. Austrian Airlines will gradually terminate its use of the Fokker jets and deliver them to Alliance Aviation over the next two years. Deployment of the Embraer aircraft will take place simultaneously.
The Embraer jets are not new and have an average age of four years, compared to the average age of about 21 years of the Fokker fleet. “The replacement of the Fokker fleet with Embraer aircraft will serve to significantly rejuvenate our fleet and offer Austrian Airlines better unit costs”, explains Austrian Airlines CEO Kay Kratky.
Alliance Aviation already operates 15 Fokker 100 and eight Fokker 70 aircraft and says it will be the largest global operator of these types of aircraft. The company operates bases in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.
Austria is looking towards the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and BAE Systems Hawk to replace its age old Saab 105 trainer jets, news outlet oe24.at reports. The Saabs are set to retire in 2020 and a decision about their replacement is to be made over the next few months. Austrian Alouette III helicopters are also due to retire, while Black Hawk transport choppers are updated.