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Airbus signs jet finance deal with ICBC
Published on: 2009-06-23
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Airbus, the European aircraft maker, has agreed a memorandum of understanding with a leading Chinese bank for the provision of financing for jet deliveries to Chinese domestic airlines.

The MoU signed with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) could lead to the bank’s leasing arm providing financing support for up to 70 A320 short-haul jets to be assembled at the new Airbus plant in Tianjin, China, during the next five years.

The initial aircraft from the Tianjin production line, the first Airbus assembly plant outside Europe, will be delivered next month, and the plant is due to produce up to four a month by the end of 2011. The first delivery will be made to Sichuan Airlines, with 11 A320s to be produced in China by the end of this year.

Airbus said the MoU with ICBC covered co-operation in both aircraft financing and leasing including management activities, the structuring of operating and finance lease transactions and portfolio management and the remarketing of aircraft, when they return from lease.

The total value of ICBC financial support would be more than Rmb20bn ($3bn). In addition ICBC could offer financing for aircraft delivered from Airbus’s European plants, and it may place future orders itself directly with Airbus to meet airline leasing needs.

Jiang Jianqing, chairman of ICBC, said the deal was primarily aimed, however, at providing financing solutions for airlines taking delivery of jets from the Tianjin assembly plant to ensure a “smooth” build up of production at the facility.

Airlines around the world have struggled during the credit crunch to finance new deliveries, and Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, said in the current economic environment “aircraft financing remains very challenging.”

Both Airbus and Boeing, the duopoly makers of big jets, have suffered a collapse in new orders in recent months, but the European aircraft maker received a boost on Monday as Virgin Atlantic announced plans to acquire 10 A330-300 widebody jets worth $2.1bn at list prices before discounts and also is in talks with Airbus to buy 50 A350 aircraft from 2014.

It has contracted to purchase six from Airbus and will lease a further four from AerCap, the aircraft lessor.

The UK long-haul carrier, controlled by Sir Richard Branson, said it would take delivery of the aircraft from early 2011 with five due that year and five in 2012.

As well as expanding capacity on existing routes Virgin Atlantic said the aircraft would support expansion to new destinations including Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver.

They will fill the gap left by the late arrival of the 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which have been delayed by more than two years and will be delivered from 2013.

The airline said it had secured financing for all 10 jets via AerCap.

Virgin Atlantic has a current fleet of 38 aircraft including six A340-300s and 19 A340-600 aircraft. It has also has an outstanding order for six A380 superjumbos, but the aircraft were previously deferred to arrive from 2013.

Despite the paucity of new orders to both Airbus and Boeing in the first five months of this year, the European aircraft maker was more successful than it expected at last week’s Paris Air Show, where it announced commitments for 127 aircraft worth $12.9bn at list prices before discounts, including firm orders for 58 jets worth $6.4bn at list prices.

The most valuable firm order was placed by AirAsia X for 10 A350-900s valued at $2.4bn, while Wizz Air, the European low cost carrier, signed an MoU for 50 A320 short haul jets valued at $3.8bn.

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