BERLIN - Buyer nations for the Airbus A400M will deliver a joint proposal on funding for the military transport plane on Monday, aiming to reach a solution on its future as soon as possible, Germany's defense ministry said.
The buyer nations are thereby confirming their firm intention of continuing the A400M project, a ministry spokesman told a regular news conference on Monday.
A source familiar with the negotiations said a solution to a dispute over the funding for Europe's military transporter project was within reach.
Partners have been at odds for months over how to resolve a multi-billion-dollar cost blowout on the A400M troop carrier.
The 20 billion euro ($27.23 billion) project, designed to support European military operations, faces estimated losses of 7.6 billion euros, of which EADS has so far pledged to absorb 3.2 billion.
EADS has asked buyers to share the losses to prevent damage to Europe's airliner business and safeguard 10,000 A400M jobs.
Sources familiar with the talks said in addition to offering to cover 2 billion euros, buyer nations were now prepared to stump up guarantees worth 1.5 billion euros, leaving an outstanding funding gap of around 900 million euros.
Airbus said earlier it would start trimming its exposure to the A400M if talks failed to make tangible progress in days.
Discussions have dragged on beyond a January 31 deadline put forward by the company as it tries to close its 2009 accounts, due to be published on March 9. It faces pressure from auditors to quantify possibly heavy A400M provisions in the accounts. Separately, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said the Airbus A350 jetliner was unlikely to reach the market before the end of 2013 at the earliest, citing industry sources.
However, a delay of one or two years on the aircraft was also possible, the newspaper cited the sources as saying.
An Airbus spokesman told Reuters challenges remained on the project but the company was in line with our commitment to deliver the first A350 by mid-2013.
(Additional reporting by Gernot Heller, Kerstin Doerr, Dave Graham and Paul Carrel; editing by Karen Foster)