Dubai's Emirates may sell bonds to help pay for new aircraft

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Emirates, Dubai's flagship airline, may issue bonds early next year to help raise $4.5 billion for 21 new plane deliveries in the financial year starting April 2014, a senior company official said on Tuesday.

Brian Jeffery, senior vice president for corporate treasury at the airline, said an Islamic or conventional bond issue might happen as early as January or February next year if market conditions were feasible.

"We have pretty much the same strategy for the next financial year as this year. It's going to be a diversified structure," Brian Jeffery, senior vice president for corporate treasury at Emirates said in an interview.

It has to raise $22 billion over the next four years to finance its aircraft deliveries, an average of $5.5 billion a year.

Emirates, one of the world's fastest-growing airlines, has been diversifying its funding to expand its fleet to compete with regional peers such as Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.

The airline has witnessed rapid growth as passenger traffic at its home base in Dubai surges on the back of an economic recovery. Dubai has one of the busiest airports in the world with over 32 million passengers passing through it in the first half of 2013, up 17 percent year-on-year.

Emirates is looking at various financing options to raise the money it needs, including bond issues, operating leases, U.S export credit facilities and financing leases, Jeffrey said.

Any bond sale was likely to happen after the airline reports its half-year results in November, he said.

Financing for aircraft deliveries in the current financial year is almost complete, with the airline securing funds for 21 of 25 aircraft deliveries, Jeffery said.

Emirates has sold two bonds this year - a $1 billion sukuk in March and a $750 million bond in January.

With the largest fleet of the Airbus A380 superjumbos, the Gulf carrier is attracting more long haul travellers.

Emirates' President Tim Clark has said the airline plans to replace a large chunk of its Boeing 777 aircraft with the 777X, the new model launched by the planemaker. A new order is expected at the Dubai Air Show in November.

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