Delta objections of Ex-Im financing limited in scope

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Delta Air Lines' objections to Export-Import Bank of the US (US Ex-Im) financing for foreign carriers is limited to just widebody aircraft for certain airlines, says chief executive Richard Anderson.

"It's really investment grade companies that are owned by the government where the president of the country, the chairman of the board and the president of the airline are one in the same," he says during a speech at the Wings Club in New York on 22 April.

The Atlanta-based carrier is part of a lawsuit claiming negative economic consequences as a result of US Ex-Im's loan guarantees for widebody deliveries to foreign airlines. The suit cites loan guarantees for Boeing deliveries to Emirates, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, LATAM Airlines Group and LOT Polish Airlines.

Hawaiian Airlines and the Air Line Pilots Association are also plaintiffs in the suit that was filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on 3 April.

Details of the US Ex-Im loan guarantees - including loan-to-value ratios, the down payment terms and loan covenants - are kept confidential, says Anderson. This compares to publicly traded US mainline carriers who must disclose these details in stock exchange and regulatory filings.

"It seems unreasonable to me that my government has got to finance my competitors with US government balance sheet at below market rates," he says.

Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, LATAM and LOT Polish all compete with Delta on certain international routes.

"We don't object to narrowbody financing it doesn't affect our business," says Anderson. "We don't object to freighter financing and we don't really object to Ex-Im Bank financing the leasing companies."

"And, by the way, we wouldn't object to a widebody financing in developing nations," he adds.

In contrast to the objections, Delta's subsidiary Delta TechOps benefitted from a $45.5 million US Ex-Im loan guarantee to Gol in order to send engine maintenance to a maintenance facility in Atlanta in earlier in May. A similar $84.8 million loan guarantee to the Brazilian carrier from the export credit agency was approved in April 2012.