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Tue, Mar 10, 2009

Boeing's Carson Says Aircraft Financing Available Into Early 2010

But Upcoming Quarters Hold "Dramatic Challenges"

The coming months will be even more difficult for airlines, and manufacturers of commercial aircraft... as credit markets are expected to shrink even more than they already have, cutting off available financing for deliveries of new planes. That spells potential catastrophe for the record order backlogs claimed over the past three years by Boeing and Airbus.

Despite the storm on the horizon, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson expressed some (very) measured optimism Tuesday... telling Dow Jones customers should be able to secure financing on new aircraft purchases this year, and into early 2010. After that, however, all bets are off. 

"We face dramatic challenges for the next several quarters," Carson (right) said in a speech at the JP Morgan Aviation and Transportation Conference. "We're watching each of our customers on a daily and weekly basis."

So far, it appears Boeing won't have to dip too deep into the "backstop" funds the planemaker has set aside to assist with financing of subprime aircraft deals. "The draw on us this year will be relatively minimal," Carson said, adding the company is working with airlines needing to replace older aircraft models with more efficient planes.

Carson also reiterated Boeing's timeframe on first-flight of its troubled 787 Dreamliner, currently slated to occur sometime Q2 2009. And despite the current economic crisis, Boeing still believes there's a market for some 27,000 large aircraft over the next 20 years.

"We're humbled by our mistakes but optimistic about the products we're bringing into the marketplace," Carson said.

FMI: www.boeing.com

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