November 10, 2017 / 12:54 PM / a year ago

Ministerial meeting on Airbus A400M delayed until February: sources

An Airbus A400M military transport plane is parked at the Airbus assembly plant during an event in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

BERLIN (Reuters) - NATO buyer nations for the European A400M military transport plane have postponed a ministerial meeting on the troubled program for three months until February, said two sources familiar with the 20 billion euro project.

Ministers had planned to meet in London in mid-November to discuss a potential reset after Airbus (AIR.PA) sought relief from heavy fines incurred due to technical snags and delays.

Airbus took a writedown of 1.2 billion euros on the program in February and warned of “significant risks ahead”.

It has been in talks with officials from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK about the way forward.

Those talks are making steady progress but have not reached a conclusion, said one of the sources, who asked not to be named.

Germany, the largest A400M buyer and seen as the buyer most opposed to granting Airbus new relief after a previous bailout, is in the middle of protracted talks about forming a new coalition government, and it remains unclear if Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen will stay in her post.

Airbus declined comment. Pan-European purchasing agency OCCAR, which oversees Europe’s largest defense project on behalf of the seven core buyer nations, could not be reached for comment.

Airbus received a 3.5 billion euro bailout from the seven nations in 2010, but it has suggested the funds did not go far enough in limiting the company’s financial exposure.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by Tim Hepher and Hugh Lawson

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