Airline Had Requested That Court Invalidate Ex-Im Bank Air India Transactions
The Export-Import bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) and Delta Airlines have different takes on an appeals court ruling on the bank's support for sale of aircraft to Air India, with both sides saying the ruling is in their favor.
Delta alleged in a lawsuit that Ex-Im failed to consider the economic impact of its loan guarantees for the purchase of wide-bodied Boeing aircraft by Air India. Boeing, which by dollar volume is the number one exporting company in the U.S., employs about 85,000 American workers in the manufacturing of its commercial aircraft.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC on Tuesday rejected a request by Delta Air Lines to vacate the Ex-Im Bank's support of sales of U.S.-manufactured aircraft to Air India. The Court has asked Ex-Im Bank to further explain its financing decision for the Air India transactions, but the Court chose to leave undisturbed the Bank's financing of the Air India transaction and did not question the Bank's flexibility in carrying out its statutory mandate. The decision comes following the appeal by plaintiffs Delta Airlines, Inc. and the Airline Pilots Association of a lower court decision in July 2012 that determined that Ex-Im Bank properly approved financing for purchases of certain Boeing aircraft by Air India.
"I am gratified by the court's recognition that these transactions should not be impeded by litigation. The Bank maintains significant flexibility in complying with its statutory mandates and its effort to support American jobs," said Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of Ex-Im Bank. "This represents a victory for tens of thousands of American aerospace workers."
But Delta also couched the ruling as a win. "Today the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a challenge by Delta Air Lines and the Air Line Pilots Association to the Export-Import Bank's issuance of loan guarantees for the sale of 30 long-range, widebody aircraft to Air India. Delta and ALPA had argued that the subsidies would have harmful effects on U.S. airlines and their employees," Delta said in a prepared statement. "The federal appeals court held that, before issuing its loan guarantees to Air India, the Bank was required by its governing statute to consider the effects that the loan guarantees would have on U.S. industries and U.S. jobs.
"According to the court, the Bank failed to explain its exclusion of aircraft transactions from economic impact review. The court also rejected the Bank's attempt to suggest that it was immune from judicial review. The Bank now will be required to take the complaints of industry participants seriously before proceeding with potentially harmful subsidies to foreign airlines."
Delta, along with the Air Line Pilots Association, has raised concerns over the past several years about the impact of the Bank's lending on U.S. airlines and their employees. Export-Import financing for widebody international aircraft puts thousands of U.S. airline jobs at risk by subsidizing foreign carriers that compete directly with Delta and other U.S. airlines on key international routes.