Etihad's aircraft finanace deal wins top award
Etihad's innovative approach to a recent aircraft financing deal has been recognised within the financial community, the second consecutive year the airline’s finance team has won such an accolade.
The financing transactions for two Airbus A340-600 aircraft which were delivered in October and December 2008, have earned the Abu Dhabi-based airline the Airfinance Journal’s ‘Middle East Deal of the Year’ award.
The first transaction, for USD $110 million, is an Islamic finance lease entered into with Al Hilal Bank. The second transaction, for USD $102 million, involved a conventional finance lease entered into with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: “These deals were secured at a time of extreme liquidity stress in the international banking market, and their conclusion in this adverse environment is indicative of the strong relationship between Etihad Airways and the regional and international financial community.
“It is also testament to the growing credibility and confidence Etihad now enjoys among its key business partners who continue to underpin the present and future growth and development of Etihad Airways.”
James Rigney Etihad Airways’ chief financial officer, added: “We have diversified our financing to include a major Shari’a compliant deal with a new Islamic bank in our region while continuing to cement our relationships with existing and new banking partners in Europe and Japan in the second transaction. Despite the tough economic cycle, there are still exciting business opportunities which we will continue to explore during the coming year.”
Mohamed Jamil Berro, Al Hilal Bank’s chief executive said: “The Airfinance Journal award crowns our first year of operations and we are especially honoured since it represents international recognition of the successful application of Islamic financial principles to aircraft financing. This type of deal underscores the stable nature of our economy and we are pleased that our bank was chosen after a rigorous vetting process that ultimately highlighted our commitment and credentials.”
Taimur Baig, regional head aircraft finance, Standard Chartered Bank said: “Standard Chartered Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited formed a club to provide the appropriate finance. This transaction reflects the banks’ ongoing focus on assisting their clients in key geographies and segments and being the right partner to them and this deal is testament to close co-operation between Etihad Airways and the bank group.”
The award, which is jointly shared with Qatar Airways, was presented to Ricky Thirion, Etihad’s vice president treasury, at Airfinance Journal’s annual award ceremony in New York.
Etihad Airways’ fleet currently comprises 44 wide and narrow bodied aircraft and will expand to 52 by the end of 2009. Three new aircraft were delivered in the first quarter of 2009 and a further eight will be delivered during the remainder of the year.
Etihad announced in July 2008 a record-breaking order for up to 205 new aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow. The order, which included firm orders for 55 Airbus and 45 Boeing aircraft, is one of the largest in commercial aviation history and will allow Etihad to meet its long-term expansion plans.
Etihad has set its sights on flying 25 million passengers a year with a fleet of more than 150 aircraft to at least 100 destinations by 2020.
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