The two ex­tra let­ters that make a 16 000km difference

The Star Late Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - In

AUS­TRIA and Aus­tralia are 16 000km and two key­strokes apart, as Euro­pean air­craft man­u­fac­turer Air­bus dis­cov­ered to its cha­grin this week.

The Fi­nan­cial Times, cit­ing fine print in the com­pany’s 2016 fi­nan­cial ac­counts, re­ported on Mon­day that Air­bus was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by au­thor­i­ties in Aus­tralia for of­fences such as bribery or fraud.

The Air­bus ac­counts did in­deed say Aus­tralia, but a com­pany spokesper­son said that was, fact, a ty­po­graph­i­cal er­ror.

“It should read Aus­tria and not Aus­tralia,” he said.

In Fe­bru­ary, Air­bus said prose­cu­tors in Vienna had ini­ti­ated a for­mal crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Air­bus and the Eurofighter con­sor­tium over al­leged fraud re­lated to a $2 bil­lion (R26.60bn) or­der for the com­bat jet more than a decade ago.

The typo in the Air­bus ac­counts is the lat­est in a series of mix-ups be­tween the two sim­i­larly named but cul­tur­ally dis­tinct and ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­tant coun­tries.

Global news net­work CNN was mocked by Twit­ter users last year for re­port­ing Aus­tralia was build­ing a fence on its Slove­nian bor­der.

In 2014, then UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon mis­tak­enly of­fered his grat­i­tude to hosts Aus­tralia when he spoke at a con­fer­ence in Vienna. – Reuters

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