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Wed, Jan 21, 2009

Airlines May Defer More '09 Deliveries Than Originally Thought

Carriers Hesitant To Accept Planes They Don't Need

Things may soon go from bad to worse for manufacturers of commercial airliners. A recent study by an analyst with investment firm UBS shows more major carriers are likely to defer their scheduled deliveries this year, than was originally thought just three months ago.

The Seattle Times reports analyst David Strauss conducted a survey of major airlines in October 2008, asking whether those carriers planned to defer orders in the next year as airlines looked to slash capacity worldwide. At that time, only 8 percent of respondents said they were likely to do so.

In a follow-up survey last week, however, that number soared to nearly 33 percent. Strauss noted both manufacturers currently enjoy a healthy backlog of orders, however, and that an equal number of survey respondents said they would move up their deliveries if earlier slots became available through the deferrals of others.

If those numbers hold, that likely bodes well for 2009... though beyond that, the picture turns decidedly darker if the deferral trend continues.

And then there's the matter of cancellations. Bertrand Grabowski, a board member at Germany's DVB Bank, issued his airline forecast Tuesday... and he expects at least 10 percent of airliner deliveries now on the books for 2009 will be cancelled outright, due to the lack of available financing.

"As manufacturers will try to avoid white tails at any cost, the cancellations and long term deferrals may have to result in the reduction of production, especially when it becomes clear towards year end that demand will not see a strong short term recovery," Grabowski wrote to clients.

In order to accommodate all deliveries planned for 2009, Grabowski says banks worldwide would need to provide about $28 billion in new financing... and in the age of government bailouts, the money simply isn't there.

FMI: www.ubs.com, www.dvbbank.com/

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