Airbus believes it is "inconceivable" that it will not finalise contract revisions with its A400M launch customers in 2019, and is optimistic that it could still hammer out an agreement by year-end.

A previously agreed 30 November deadline to complete the contract talks looks unlikely to be met, with the manufacturer noting that the negotiations have been "advancing slower than planned".

But speaking during a third-quarter results call on 31 October, chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm said that it has "come such a long way" in its discussions that it was "just inconceivable that we will not have an agreement on the way forward with the nations in 2019".

He points to areas that have already been signed off, such as the timing of deliveries and the addition of military capabilities, as signs of progress.

On that basis, the prospect of both sides "freezing an agreement in 2018" is "still achievable", he says.

While declining to elaborate on the sticking points still to be addressed, he points to recent media reports that indicate "commercial issues" are at the heart of the problem. "Yes, sometimes it is around money," he says.

Airbus announced in February that it had signed a declaration of intent with Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK, via Europe's OCCAR defence procurement agency, to revisit contracts for the tactical transport.