New aircraft financing rules that take effect Jan. 1 will double the upfront fees the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) charges for its loan guarantees.
The fees are expected to more than double from 6.25% to 15% of the total loan and will be adjusted on a quarterly basis, Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg said Nov. 8 during a speech at the International Aviation Club in Washington.
This makes Ex-Im Bank financing considerably more expensive for companies with good credit and reinforces the institution’s role as the “lender of last resort,” he says.
The rules were part of a new Aircraft Sector Understanding (ASU) negotiated two years ago at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as a response to developed-world airlines’ argument that competitors from emerging markets were benefitting from more favorable financing terms through entities like Ex-Im.
The ASU makes Ex-Im Bank financing much more expensive than commercial financing for domestic airlines and thriving carriers from merging markets. Not only will upfront fees will go up, but financing rates also will rise for companies with good credit. “Our fees now will be double those of private-sector banks,” said Hochberg.
The ASU also allows the Ex-Im Bank—and the European export-credit agencies—to focus on providing lending capacity that commercial banks may be unwilling to provide. These could include longer-term loans or loans to companies in countries that banks have deemed financially risky.
“It is important to remember that we are there to provide capacity, not to provide cheap financing,” Hochberg said.
(Editor note: This updated version clarifies the explanation of the ASU)