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European bank funding woes ‘short-term’, says Airbus

As Boeing overshadows Airbus so far at the Dubai Air Show, Airbus’ sales chief says the company is still talking to Qatar Airways on deals.

November 14, 2011 1:52 by

European banks lack of access to dollar funding, which has hampered aircraft financing, is a “short term” issue and planemaker Airbus is closely monitoring the situation, its sales chief said on Monday.

European lenders, especially French banks, which have been major financiers for Mideast carriers’ deals with Airbus and Boeing, have become risk-averse because of the eurozone debt crisis.

“We are watching it carefully,” John Leahy said at a news conference. “We have done some aircraft financing in euros. Some European banks are having trouble accessing US dollars … this is more of a short-term thing than anything else.”

Leahy was speaking on the second day of the Dubai Air Show which has so far been dominated by massive orders for rival Boeing.

Dubai government-owned carrier Emirates placed an $18 billion order for 50 Boeing 777son Monday, the largest commercial order by value in the US planemaker’s history.

Industry sources told Reuters Qatar Airways is expected to place a $6.5-billion order for 50 fuel-saving A320neo jets and five A380s from Airbus.

Leahy said the planemaker was talking to the Gulf Arab state’s flagship carrier, but gave no further details.

“We are still talking to (Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker) about possible deals,” he said.

Qatar Airways has orders worth over $40 billion for more than 200 aircraft, including Boeing787s, 777s, Airbus A350s, A380s, A320 family of aircraft and Bombardier corporate jets.

Airbus said it sees demand for 1,920 aircraft in the Middle East over the next two decades, worth $347 billion. The figures were part of the planemaker’s global market forecast issued in September and are for 2011-2030 period.

Some of Airbus’ biggest customers are in the Middle East — including Emirates airline, the largest buyer of its A380 superjumbo — and regional carriers appear keen to maintain expansion plans despite slowing global economic growth. (By Sitaraman Shankar and Praveen Menon)

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