German opposition to Saudi Eurofighter exports a 'real problem' - Airbus CEO

FILE PHOTO: Italian and Spanish Air Force Eurofighter jets perform air policing mission

BERLIN (Reuters) - Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury hit out at the German government for its strict line on arms exports in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday, with Berlin blocking the delivery of Eurofighter combat aircraft to Saudi Arabia.

"The German government's stance on arms exports to some countries is a real problem," Faury told the business daily Handelsblatt.

"If Germany wants to be a trustworthy partner in major defence projects, it must resolve the issue of export controls with the other Europeans and not in spite of them," he said.

Faury also told the newspaper that the European planemaker was on track to reach its delivery target this year.

"We have made a lot of progress with the supply chains. However, the environment remains extremely complex and requires a lot of work, attention and time," he said.

Airbus missed its delivery target last year.

France and Germany have long been at odds on defence exports, with Berlin traditionally taking a more cautious stance.

Berlin halted arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has so far pushed back against pressure to unblock delivery of the Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia. His coalition partner, the Greens, firmly opposes the move, pointing to human rights concerns and Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen war.

(Reporting by Rachel More and Tim Hepher; Editing by Friederike Heine and Mark Potter)