EXCLUSIVE-Spain, others may resell some A400M amid budget woes
PARIS/MADRID, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Spain and other buyers are considering new options for curbing spending on the Airbus A400M by reselling some aircraft, casting a fresh shadow over Europe's largest defence project even as France gets the first delivery, defence sources said.
Spain, where the sophisticated airlifter is being assembled, has almost halved its domestic requirement to 14 aircraft instead of 27 and has told Airbus Military that 13 would be available for export, a ministry official said.
Two sources familiar with the matter said others including France have started examining whether they can reduce their exposure by making some of their aircraft available for export.
A French defence procurement official said he was not aware of such a plan and no immediate comment was available from the French defence ministry.
The A400M was built by Airbus at a cost of more than 20 billion euros ($26.47 billion) for seven European NATO nations -- Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.
After a four-year delay in deliveries and a 3.5 billion euro financial bailout, the first A400M was due to take up residence at its first base in Orleans, south of Paris, on Friday.
France has ordered 50 of the planes, out of a total of 170 sold to the core European partners. Malaysia is so far the only export customer with four aircraft on order.
Although the 2010 bailout deal prevents European partners from cancellng further orders outright, the largest customer, Germany, is expected to release 13 of its 53 aircraft for export as a condition of parliamentary approval for the purchase.
Other buyers are increasingly studying whether they can do the same but doing so raises thorny issues over the handling of export royalties and would require agreement of all nations and Airbus Military, people familiar with the contract said.
The Spanish official said the proposal to resell some planes resulted from an assessent of its needs and no changes would be made until "there's an agreement with all of the partners."
($1 = 0.7557 euros)
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Christian Plumb)