Airbus sales chief sees some export credit cover in 2017

Mon Mar 6, 2017 7:49pm EST
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By Tim Hepher

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) expects to have access to European export credit financing on a "case by case" basis in 2017, its sales chief said on Monday, granting it a respite from a series of setbacks.

European Export Credit Agencies (ECA) suspended financing for Airbus deliveries in 2016 amid a UK investigation into discrepancies in paperwork over the use of intermediaries.

"I would be expecting that we will get ECA cover on a case-by-case basis this year," John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers said in an interview on the sidelines of the ISTAT Americas air finance conference.

Covering a range of topics on the sidelines of what could be his last such meeting before retiring around the turn of the year, Leahy said Airbus would need until at least 2018 to recoup production levels it had originally planned for its A320neo jet following production problems at engine maker Pratt & Whitney.

"I think Pratt has been frustrating. We are certainly capable of delivering the airframes the moment we have engines. The good news is the engine is meeting and exceeding our expectations," Leahy told Reuters.

Airbus delivered 68 A320neos in 2016, well below earlier expectations, and predicts it will treble this number in 2017.

Industry sources say deliveries of the new Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine to Airbus and Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) fell as much as 50 percent below the original plans in 2016, raising questions over how quickly it could catch up.

That has implications for the penalties that planemakers may continue to have to pay to airlines beyond 2017 and that they will in turn want to recoup from the U.S. engine maker.   Continued...

Airbus Chief Operating Officer-Customers John Leahy delivers his speech during the annual Airbus Commercial Press Briefing in Blagnac, Southwestern France, January 11, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau