Qatar Airways flying above credit crunch

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Sep. 30--Qatar Airways has secured two innovative financing deals worth a total of US$700million for the purchase of four brand new Boeing 777 aircraft due for delivery over the next few months.

A US$350 million finance lease deal to purchase two new Boeing 777 aircraft -- both a 777-300ER and a 777-200LR version -- followed an agreement with five leading international banks.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank AG, Standard Chartered Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited struck the deal with a 12-year term. One Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft is scheduled for delivery this month and one 777-200 Long Range version is due to be delivered in November 2009.

Following a highly successful US$500 million aircraft financing transaction for Qatar Airways arranged by the same group of banks last year, the group was keen to work again with the airline on a follow on transaction.

The innovative structure ensures that the deal finances 100% of the purchase cost of the aircraft, achieving a loan to aircraft value profile that would meet the requirements of international aviation banks. Standard Chartered Bank acted as facility agent and security trustee.

The closing of this deal is a testament to the close co-operation enjoyed between Qatar Airways and the lending group. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said of the deal: "In these difficult times for the banking sector, I am very pleased to see this group of experienced aviation banks regrouping to support Qatar Airways once again.

"This clearly demonstrates the finance community's continued support for Qatar Airways as it forges ahead with robust growth at a time when the rest of the airline industry is consolidating. "I would like to thank our partners for their ongoing support and commitment to Qatar Airways which is maintaining its growth plans with vigour."

The Doha-based airline is on an aggressive expansion drive with more than 220 aircraft worth over US$40 billion currently on order.

Qatar Airways has also struck a further deal worth US$350 million for the financing of two new Boeing 777 aircraft in a move that further shows the global finance community's support and commitment towards one of the world's fastest growing airlines. The airline appointed Calyon and Natixis Transport Finance as Joint Arrangers for the financing of one Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft scheduled for delivery in October 2009 and one Boeing 777-200 Long Range version due to be delivered in December.

The transaction, an up to 12-year, two-tranche finance lease structure, was designed to attract key asset players, as well as banks which relied on creditworthiness of the airline. The financing has been underwritten and financed by a pool of four banks -- Calyon, Credit Suisse, Helaba, and Natixis Transport Finance.

Of this deal, Al Baker said: "I am very pleased that not only is Qatar Airways continuing to attract financing from its long-term relationship banks such as Calyon and Natixis Transport Finance, but also attracting support from new banks such as Credit Suisse and Helaba."

Successfully closed against a backdrop of ongoing financial insecurity in the global banking sector, the transactions demonstrate Qatar Airways' ability to attract financing from leading aviation banks.

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