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Airbus clients to offer loan guarantees

FRANKFURT, Feb 16 – Seven countries which have ordered the Airbus A400M military transport have offered an additional 1.5 billion euros (two billion dollars) in credit guarantees to get the programme off the ground, a press report said on Tuesday.

"On top of a supplemental financing of two billion euros, the client countries have offered 1.5 billion euros in loan guarantees," the Financial Times Deutschland reported, without identifying its sources.

On Monday, the German defence ministry said junior ministers from Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey had submitted a proposal to Airbus\’ parent company EADS.

They suggested the hi-tech transport plane, which is three years behind schedule, be built first in a "basic" version that could be certified as air worthy, before then delivering a military version.

Client countries are also ready to pursue talks on the plane\’s price, the financial daily Handelsblatt said.

The A400M has become a thorny topic of talks for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and its partner countries, because it is also five billion euros over budget.

The programme was initially estimated to cost 20 billion euros for 180 aircraft.

Last week, a Spanish press report said EADS was set to begin winding down the programme if an agreement on the cost overruns was not reached by Monday.

Airbus has 52,000 employees around Europe with about 10,000 working on the A400M, designed as a state-of-the-art aircraft that can carry troops, armoured vehicles and helicopters and would replace Europe\’s ageing fleet of transport planes.

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