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26 Feb, 2024 19:35

Airbus apologizes over barring Chinese citizens from plane

A German military aircraft was also allegedly closed to Russians at the Singapore Airshow
Airbus apologizes over barring Chinese citizens from plane

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has issued a public apology after Chinese and Russian citizens were reportedly prevented from boarding the group's A400M military transport plane at the 2024 Singapore Airshow on Saturday. 

Multiple guests posted on social media complaining they had been barred from boarding the German airforce plane by military personnel during the Public Day of the airshow. 

In a video posted by one Chinese attendee, the woman at the entrance to the A400M informed him they needed to check his nationality “because it is a German aircraft.” She reportedly stated that “Chinese and Russian nationals are not allowed to board the plane.” The same guest claimed to have filmed German personnel “chasing him” away after learning he was Chinese, the Global Times said. 

A second claimed that Germans had physically attacked him, leading him to file an official complaint with the airshow organizers, citing “discrimination against Chinese people.” Chinese visitors were reportedly allowed to board other countries’ military planes. 

While Airbus did not explicitly address whether Russian citizens were also excluded as some social media reports alleged, the company acknowledged in a statement that some visitors had “raised questions about access” to its plane and claimed it had “immediately communicated and coordinated with the customer and our Airbus teams at the show to ensure that the aircraft was open to all visitors” for the rest of the event.

Airbus insisted that it “seeks win-win cooperation with the Chinese aviation industry” and aims to be build “bridges of communication” between China and Europe.

Airbus has dominated a growing share of the passenger aircraft market in recent years due to its American competitor Boeing’s long string of potentially deadly manufacturing issues. The Boeing 737 MAX 8’s onboard computer faults sent two planes full of passengers to their deaths in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, resulting in hundreds of commercial airliners being grounded for nearly two years. Its replacement, the 737 MAX 9, was also grounded and faced a production ban by US regulators after an Alaskan Airlines flight experienced a blowout in mid-air last month. 

Brussels and Washington have long complained about Beijing’s alleged theft and surveillance of western military technology. The US has pressured the UK and EU states to ban Huawei from their 5G infrastructure, lest the company’s equipment turn out to include backdoors feeding sensitive Western data to the Chinese government. To date, no evidence of the alleged capabilities has been made public.