Delta, Boeing on Opposite Sides of Export-Import Bank Debate

Jun 25, 2014

The Federal Export-Import Bank is in place to finance international buyers' purchases of U.S. Goods.  Its charter is before Congress for re-authorization, which is proving to be a polarizing and politicized process. 

Credit Jim Burress / WABE News

It's also put Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines sqarely against Boeing, the airline's largest aircraft supplier. 

CEO Richard Anderson is calling for reform of the Export-Import Bank.  He says currently, Ex-Im affords overseas airlines an unfair advantage because it finances Boeing wide body jets at a discount Delta itself cannot get.

Delta has the backing of the Air Line Pilots Association.  ALPA’s president, Lee Moak, testified before a house financial committee Wednesday.

“International jobs at mainline carriers are in jeopardy," he told Congress, giving the example of Air India. The carrier used Ex-Im to finance a new fleet of aircraft.  Moak says the deal allowed the carrier to, in his words, flood the market.

“In 2008, this excessive capacity forced Delta Air Lines out of the New York/Mumbai route, displacing U.S. workers due to unfair competition,” Moak said. 

Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) is on the Committee.  He agrees Delta’s competitiveness is hurt by Ex-Im,  

“We need to move forward with an amendment that languages in what Delta needs to satisfy their concerns,” Scott told WABE. 

Specifically, Scott says that means excluding Boieng from Ex-Im loans. 

Tim Neale is with Boeing’s D.C. public policy office.  He takes issue with Delta’s claims.

“We have looked carefully at the financing data, to try and understand Delta’s concerns and whether they’re competitively disadvantaged," Neale says. "We don’t see any evidence that supports that claim.”

Neale says Delta is able to finance planes through the bond market at cheaper rates than what Ex-Im affords.  And, he says, excluding Boeing would mean a loss of jobs because foreign airlines would instead buy Airbus planes. 

Ex-Im’s current charter expires in September.