Airbus A400M

The much delayed and over-budget A400M aircraft finally flew for the first time last month. Credit: CNN / Getty Images

Airbus is threatening to scrap its €20bn ($28.8bn) programme to build the A400M military aircraft, Europe’s most high profile defence project, unless governments agree to come up with more money for it before the end of this month.

“We need to stop this constant drain on resources,” an Airbus spokesman said on Tuesday. “We’ve asked the governments to take their share of the burden and this needs to be done as soon as possible.”

Analysts warned that abandoning the programme would be costly for the aircraft maker, which would have to repay €5.7bn in development funding under the original programme contract, and could hurt its reputation for reliably delivering aircraft.

The much delayed and over-budget A400M aircraft, which finally flew for the first time just last month, has become a source of friction between Airbus and the European governments that have backed it since its launch nearly seven years ago.

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