Airbus to resume deliveries to HNA Group after payments dispute

TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) - Airbus AIR.PA is poised to resume stalled deliveries of jets to China's debt-laden HNA Group, an Airbus schedule showed on Monday, but deliveries of over $1 billion of large jets remain behind schedule after months of wrangling over late payments.

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Visitors to an Airbus delivery center in Toulouse on Monday saw at least two Airbus A330 aircraft and one smaller A320-family jet in position for handover to HNA-affiliated airlines. An electronic sign welcomed crew for an imminent A320 delivery.

“Some (HNA) planes will be delivered,” an industry source said, though another cautioned that financing details could still take several more weeks to finalize.

Another six A330 aircraft painted in flame-red HNA tail liveries remained parked in long-term storage elsewhere in Airbus’s Toulouse base, according to Reuters journalists, who were attending an event at the facility for the first delivery of the upgraded A330neo version to TAP Portugal.

“Deliveries are ongoing. Contractual terms are confidential,” an Airbus spokesman said, when asked about HNA deliveries.

Companies belonging to the Chinese aviation-to-finance conglomerate delayed payments earlier this year, leading Airbus to suspend deliveries rather than step in to provide delivery financing itself, Reuters reported in July.

In all, more than a dozen aircraft are affected by HNA-related funding shortages for deliveries, industry sources said.

China Development Bank, HNA’s biggest creditor, is expected to be involved in financing deliveries of up to eight of these, the sources said.

The sovereign bank’s aviation finance arm said earlier this year it stood ready to help HNA-affiliated airlines.

Airbus said last month it hoped to resolve by year-end an unidentified commercial issue surrounding current-generation A330 airplanes, which industry sources afterwards linked to the HNA payments stand-off.

Under pressure from Beijing, HNA Group is in the process of selling some $20 billion of assets, according to Reuters calculations and media reports, following a $50 billion acquisition spree.

Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Jane Merriman/Mark Heinrich