ECAs and the Aviation Industry: What Does the Future Hold?

(JSUPRA, Sausalito, 16 July 2020) The use of Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing in the aviation industry has ebbed and flowed over the years, and it is often during turbulent times that it has proved to be most popular. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented downturn experienced by the aviation industry, it is very likely that there will be an increase in the use of ECA financing in the near future. A typical ECA financing structure for the purchase of an aircraft will involve an 85% loan from a syndicate of ECA-supported banks, and such loans will be guaranteed by one or more ECAs. The unfinanced portion of the aircraft's cost will usually be an equity contribution (and where made by way of loan, fully subordinated to the ECA loan). ECA activity tends to be countercyclical: During economic downturns when banks and other lending institutions are reluctant to provide finance, ECA activity accelerates. By way of example, between 2009 and 2012, EXIM helped finance roughly 30 percent of all Boeing's commercial aircraft deliveries. EXIM received its reauthorization in December 2019 after losing it in 2015 — so it was effectively dormant for a 4.5-year period — while ECA activity for Airbus was curtailed as a result of a 2016 UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation relating to irregular payments by Airbus to intermediaries.