The collapse of the $700 billion bailout of the US financial system is bad news for aviation.
The capital markets were already driving up pricing on debt and driving out many lending institutions from the aviation market. Airbus and Boeing downplayed the declining credit markets (our conversations with them being about two weeks ago, before things really began to go south). Each believed that money to finance airplanes was available, albeit more expensive, and that neither would have to step up to provide backstop financing until the second half of next year. Part of this is the large segments of their respective order backlogs that are eligible for export credit financing backed by the European and US governments. In Boeing’s case, the company has said on several occasions that about 83% of its backlog may be financed by the US Export-Import Bank. We don’t have a figure for Airbus, but we believe that most of its backlog is similarly eligible for the European Credit Agency (ECA) financing.
Based on the information we had at the time, we generally agreed. But not now. ExIm or ECA or not, there still have to be viable banks and general market liquidity available for the credit agencies to provide guarantees for the funding.
The situation has changed so dramatically in just the last seven days that we are now concerned there will quickly be a financing crisis for the airlines. In this respect, the airlines may just decide that the longer a Boeing strike the better.
Our colleagues at Commercial Aviation Online, the finance-oriented publication of the Flight Global family, paints a dire picture emerging in aviation finance in our conversations with them. (We write for CAO as well.) But they are still constructing their stories, and we’re obligated to me ambiguous at this stage. Furthermore, it’s a paid-subscription service, so while we’ll be able to synopsize stories when the time comes, we won’t’ be able to fully reproduce them here. But the bottom line is that things are going south faster than anyone believed in aviation finance.
Update, September 30: Bloomberg News has this short item about customers for Embraer having difficulting financing the planes that were ordered. Brazil, like the US, Europe and Canada (for Bombardier), offers export financing support, too.
Update, 11:45 AM PDT: Commercial Aviation Online posted its story. (Paid subscription required.) Here are some excerpts:
With no US bailout package on the table, the aviation finance market remains frozen unable to make sound decisions in an uncertain climate.
“Right now, there is no interbank lending and banks are hoarding cash. Most bankers are putting off any decisions because there are no good decisions right now,” says a London-based banker.
He adds: “It is hard to say anything concrete right now except that if the current crisis continues, we are in big trouble. However, even with a US bailout don’t expect a panacea. What we are seeing now is what happened to the Japanese banks. It will take five to ten years to get out of this mess.”
Due to uncertain market conditions, a number of aviation deals that are currently in the works are likely to be renegotiated.
“No one wants a RFP right now. Everything is being delayed and many deals will have to be revisited,” says another banker.