In a surprise move in the ongoing saga over construction of Bombardier’s new C-series airliners, Spain and Boeing jointly announced that any aircraft completed in Airbus’s Mobile (AL) factory will owe a Value-Added Tax and per-unit royalties to Madrid.
A spokesman for Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy stated Tuesday, “As the site of the Mobile factory was on land predominantly colonized and developed by Spain until the War of 1812, we believe it is right and proper that our nation receive some portion of the proceeds from this decision. We ceded this land to the United States and it was effectively a ‘turnkey operation’ from that point.”
Although several Native American groups voiced their disagreement with the statement from Spain, they claimed that their focus remained on maintaining tribal peace, increasing efficiency in self-government, and legally taking the occupiers’ money through casino expansion over the next two to three centuries.
Tensions escalated in recent weeks as Airbus and Bombardier reached an agreement to skirt US-Canadian tariffs by subcontracting the final assembly of the C-series to Airbus, allowing the aircraft to be certified as US built. The 100- to 150-seat jet segment is often considered the cornerstone of the market, something that Boeing and Airbus have controlled in a decades-old duopoly.
France, however, has not remained silent in the matter. Following Spain’s announcement, French President Emmanual Macron filed a follow-up complaint claiming that Mobile’s development actually began in 1702 under French control; he also claims that any VATs or royalties should flow primarily to Paris, as the French were responsible for the majority of the development in the area.
Critics almost immediately pointed to the possibility of collusion between Airbus, France, and Spain on the matter, proposing that Airbus was simply looking for a way to make their alliance with Bombardier less economically feasible. The rumor that Airbus got cold feet over the deal has gained traction as the company has remained conspicuously silent on the issue, tweeting only “We love @bombardier and looking forward to building the #cseries jets. Sorry about Spain, they’re prob just mad about the #Catalans.” (referring to the recent months of tension in Spain around the Catalonian independence referendum.)
Early Wednesday morning Catalonian president-in-exile Carles Puigdemont extended an informal offer of more than six trillion Euros in cash and tax credits for Bombardier to build a new C-series factory outside Barcelona, which will be shared with competing Brazilian aircraft firm Embraer. Puigdemont announced on his Facebook page that “Our color printers are working overtime to make good on this promise and the Brazilians are already finalizing a location. Please hurry before toner cartridge runs out. Gotta run.”
For its part, the Trump administration is not pleased with the skirting of US tariffs and has opened a bid process to build a physical wall on the Quebec border between 38,000 and 44,000 feet tall. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders elaborate that the President would consider such a wall not just at the Canadian border, but around any US territory that Bombardier chooses – including Mobile.
On the subject, President Trump tweeted “I personally can’t tolerate repeated, tenuous marriages with foreigners out of simple convenience or opportunism. It’s not something @POTUS believes in. #MAGA”