(Reuters) -Boeing Co voiced optimism on Wednesday over financing for jet buyers to take deliveries as the industry looks to a recovery in air travel, while raising an amber flag over airline access to commercial bank loans.
Industrywide needs for funding to support deliveries fell about 40% to $59 billion in 2020 as the pandemic stifled production already weakened by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX in 2019.
“Despite the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on the global aerospace industry, there generally continues to be liquidity in the market for our customers,” said Tim Myers, president of Boeing Capital, the planemaker’s financing arm.
“We expect it to further improve as travel begins to rebound.”
Aviation has become a fast-growing alternative asset class over the past decade, as investors flocked toward dollar-denominated investments that offer relatively high returns, especially when set against a backdrop of low interest rates.
As the pandemic swept across the industry just over a year ago, credit spreads widened, capital markets closed to aviation and banks retreated, Boeing said in an aviation finance report.
But “capital markets came back, and new sources of funding from institutional investors and funds came to market,” it added.
One lingering concern surrounds the availability of commercial bank funding, which typically makes up about a third of the financing needed to support jet deliveries.
Commercial lending has recovered ground since 2020 but remains on Boeing’s watchlist along with certain tax-related instruments. But for now, capital from investment funds is filling the gap.
“We expect that capital will continue to be routed into the sector by established players and as new entrants seek opportunities during the industry’s recovery,” Myers said.
(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Tim Hepher and Richard Chang)