Etihad delays financing talks over plane deliveries

14 October 2008
Etihad Airways is to unveil the finance facility for two new aircraft by the end of October, but has delayed negotiations on financing for other deliveries to allow global financial markets to settle.

The two long-range Airbus A340-600s, which carry a list price of about $250m each, are due to be be delivered before the end of October.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier says it has one conventional finance lease and one Islamic lease in place for the two planes.

It will unveil details of the financing arrangements when the aircraft are delivered.

“We issued a request for proposals in the summer when there is not as much financing activity or competition,” says James Rigney, Etihad’s vice president of finance.

“We had 16 separate proposals and have selected the best, and are completing the documentation now.

“The banks have confirmed that despite the difficult times, they will be proceeding with the mandate.”

However, the airline is suspending other financing activity to assess how the availability of debt has been affected by the recent global financial turmoil.

The carrier is due to take delivery of another seven aircraft in the coming months.

“The time to finance those is clearly not now. We will sit back and wait to see how the market develops” says Ricky Thirion, vice president of treasury.

Thirion also confirms that the airline is considering a return to the bond market once financial markets are more stable, with new sukuk (Islamic bond) under consideration, although the size of any new issue has yet to be decided.

“It will depend on our needs at the time," he says. "Around AED1bn [$272m] is what the local market starts getting excited about."

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