тексты aviation week (20-21 англ сдан)

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record deliveries in 2009 are not enough to paper over the significant challenges EADS confronts as the strong euro, A400M military transport and A380 continue to weigh on the aerospace giant's outlook.

If anything, the headwind is stronger even than

it was last year. BADS has been using currency hedges to dampen the effect of the failing dollar. But the average exchange rate it has been able to secure for 2010 is 10 cents below 2009's level. That automatically spells a €l-billion ($1.4-billion) shortfall in revenue.

The situation has direct implications not just for EADS but the global aerospace business. CEO Louis Gallois is vowing 'to drive ahead with efforts to move the companies supply, chain outside the euro zone.

Moreover, mergers" and acquisitions will remain on hold until at least 2012, when the commercial airliner business is expected to recover, says Marwan Lahoud, the company's head of strategy. But he shrugs off the notion that it puts EADS behind rivals, noting that because others are also spending conservatively, opportunities are not being lost.

Clouding the business as well are the uncertain future of the A400M" airlifter and the inability to get A380 production on track. Airbus delivered only 10 of the mega-transports last year compared to 18 once planned, which is seen as a "huge disappointment"

For the moment, the most pressing concern remains the A400M's fate. Defense ministers of A400M-buying countries are due to meet next week, as EADS has ratcheted up the rhetoric about needing a decision on the program's future soon—national armaments directors once again discussed the program late last week. The company is burning through €100-150 million in cash a month on the program. "We just cannot continue beyond January without knowing where we are going financially," Gallois says.

Airbus CEO Thomas Enders is threatening to discontinue the program and Airbus is asking governments to agree to a 25% price increase equivalent to €5.3 billion. A program review by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded the program will be more than €11 billion over the original budget. Half of that is supposed to be covered by the EADS partner states, EADS has already taken €2.4 billion in write-downs on-the core program, but there are another €3.6 billion in expenses expected to cover future risks or possible design changes.

One potential compromise would see the countries paying the amount originally agreed upon (€20 billion), but take 25% fewer aircraft. In that case, Germany would get 45 aircraft instead of 60 in the initial tranche, and France would receive 40 instead of 50. Additional aircraft would have to be paid for separately. Gallois says Airbus is already taking a €2.4-billidn,. loss on the first 180 aircraft, and that does not include any; future mishaps in. the three years to first delivery.

EADS is still waiting to be asked to the negotiating table, but so far the governments have not worked out a cohesive negotiating stance. Gallois suggests that one country be appointed lead negotiator to streamline talks with industry. It is unclear what EADS will do if governments fail to come to terms by month's end, although Enders warns he will not jeopardize all of Airbus for the sake of the A400M. That, he says, is what would happen if the current program were to continue unchanged.

Gallois, too, has signaled reluctance to take on more of the financial burden associated with the program going forward, as German government officials have indicated the company should.

Also unclear is whether changes in procurement quantities will affect the carefully negotiated workshare allotment. For instance, the U.K. indicates it will keep its A400M spending allotment steady but agree to take fewer aircraft. Airbus warns that changing work allocation while the program is focused on ramping up would be a big mistake and add significant risk. .

Another crucial issue is how suppliers and Airbus could come to an agreement regarding the excess costs that have already accumulated. Airbus is understood to be planning to withhold large payments to suppliers ahead of what one senior industry official expects to be a clash over responsibilities and cost allocation. In 2002, EADS agreed to take on all of the program's risks, but now it says that delays in the TP400 engine development have been a major cause of program slippage. Engine industry officials say, though, that they received numerous requests late in the development schedule that made the initial plan untenable.

It is not all bad news for EADS, however. By carefully managing its order book, Airbus was able to deliver 498 aircraft last year. In the process, the aircraft maker has reshuffled 600 delivery positions to keep cancellations to a minimum. With 310 gross orders, Airbus suffered only 39 cancellations. Airbus outpaced rival Boeing in order intake and deliveries.

EADS also had to provide less financial assistance to Airbus customers than first feared. The company had set aside €1 billion for those purposes, but the help of export credit agencies and loans from others meant the total was "materially" lower, says Chief Financial Officer Hans-Peter Ring. EADS is likely to set aside a similar figure for this year, although the exact number will be set by the board in the run-up to the Mar. 9 release of full-year financial results.

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