Boeing Plans To Lend Over $1B To Buyers In 2010

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Airplane maker Boeing Co. expects to lend slightly more than $1 billion to customers next year, up from about $1 billion in 2009, the company's chief executive said Wednesday.

Chicago-based Boeing and its European archrival, Airbus, have been coping with substantially lower orders for jetliners as the global economic slowdown weakens demand for air travel and cargo services. Boeing has said it anticipates providing no more than $1 billion in financing to customers this year, and that funding for new planes is available from other sources.

On Wednesday, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said "most people think we're going to have to lend a lot more than that, but the facts are ... the financing is in place and we may actually fall short of a billion dollars."

"Next year, we see a little more than that, but not significantly more," he said in remarks broadcast over the Internet from an analysts' conference in New York.

McNerney added that he was "a little surprised" by the amount, but that Boeing's mix of customers was "not as unfavorable as some others in terms of either the financing requirement or the financability."

"That's the way it looks today," he said. "Could it get worse? Yes, if the world changes dramatically, that could change, but I think (the current projection is) good news."

Last week, Boeing's chief financial officer, James Bell, said the company should not have to offer more than the expected $1 billion in financing this year because other funding is available on the market for airplane purchases.

Although the economic crisis has forced some airlines to cancel or delay plans to buy new planes, Boeing maintains a record order backlog, with some 80 percent of the orders placed by customers outside the U.S.

Shares of Boeing slipped 59 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $43.57.

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