The International Air Transport Association predicts 2009 will present airlines with the worst revenue crisis since the end of the Second World War. But there is a bailout on the way… not from government, but from Boeing and Airbus.
IATA CEO and Director General Giovanni Bisignani told the Times of London the two big manufacturers will offer billions of dollars in loans to their airline customers to prevent a disastrous collapse of their order backlogs. The airlines are already carrying lots of debt, and without available credit, would find themselves unable to take delivery of aircraft already ordered.
Bisignani estimates the airline industry’s worldwide combined debt at $190 billion. “In this climate it is not going to be easy to fund their needs to buy new planes. It is going to be very, very tough for those large players.”
Consultant Chris Tarry is among industry observers who say the talk of big order backlogs is no longer impressing investors.
“The manufacturers have been in denial,” Tarry said. “Both Airbus and Boeing each have between 800 and 900 planes on their order books, many of which the carriers are not going to be able to take… there is far too much equipment about to be delivered as we enter the downturn and someone has to take the risk.”
China delivered a wakeup call to the industry last week, urging its own airlines to cancel or reschedule 2009 aircraft deliveries.