A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report this week on widebody aircraft financing from the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im) has renewed efforts by Delta Air Lines and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) to urge Congress to reform the institution.

Neither ALPA nor Delta is calling for Ex-Im’s abolition, which some politicians aligned with the tea party have done. Instead, both the union and the carrier say Ex-Im needs to be reformed. This will prevent Ex-Im providing “better-than-market financing to [creditworthy] foreign carriers,” ALPA wrote in a letter to Congress. Such financing gives foreign carriers, specifically Emirates Airline and Eithad Airways, a competitive advantage over U.S. carriers on long-haul international routes.

ALPA estimates Ex-Im funding gives Emirates and Etihad a per-aircraft financing advantage of $2 million. “Not only does this undercut the U.S. airline industry’s ability to compete globally, it also shifts industry economics by allowing foreign carriers to make business decisions outside of the business capital markets and economic conditions dictated on U.S. and European airlines,” ALPA said.

Delta estimates Ex-Im financing amounts to “U.S. taxpayer-funded subsidies totaling as much as $20 million per aircraft,” the company said in a statement. “That subsidy puts our own airline industry at a competitive disadvantage and it’s why Delta believes it’s now time to end the bank’s practice of helping creditworthy, state-owned and -supported foreign carriers purchase widebody aircraft at the expense of U.S. airlines and American jobs.”

Both ALPA and Delta are asking for Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im only if the bank reforms its lending practices to minimize loan guarantees for what they see as creditworthy foreign airlines. Doing so will allow Ex-Im to refocus on its mandate to be the lender of last resort for small businesses, ALPA said. “Moderate reforms will enable [Ex-Im] to expand outside the aviation sector to allocate more of its limited resources on additional small buisnesses.”

The GAO study found that Ex-Im has $32 billion in financial exposure  -- 28% of its total -- for widebody aircraft financing, with three countries, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea and India, accounting for more than $3 billion each. Ex-Im loan guarantees helped finance 789 Boeing large commercial aircraft between 2008-2013. During that same period, European export-credit agencies (ECA) financed 821 Airbus large commercial aircraft

ECA financing for commercial aircraft is governed by a number of international agreements, but together, Ex-Im and European ECAs provided loan guarantees for 26% of Boeing’s and Airbus’ large commercial aircraft deliveries between 2008-2013. U.S. and carriers from the U.K., France, Spain and Germany are subject to the “Home Market Rule,” which bars them from accessing support from ECAs for Boeing or Airbus products.