The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is making available, via the Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), two loans totalling USD 18.7 million (around EUR 17 million) for part-financing the renewal and expansion of Air Nostrum Líneas del Mediterráneo SA (AIR NOSTRUM).

Specifically, these EIB loans will serve to finance this regional Spanish airline's use of 2 Canadair CRJ-200 aircraft under an operating lease.

These are the first two tranches of a EUR 250 million credit line approved by the EIB for cofinancing the acquisition of 40 Bombardier and Canadair regional aircraft, which will replace the existing Fokker aircraft and expand AIR NOSTRUM's fleet to 50 units by August 2005.

As the aircraft will mainly operate within Spain and between that country and secondary European airports, the project will help to foster regional development and the improvement of transport on low density regional routes within Spain and between the Member States.

The EIB was created in 1958 by the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, with the remit of contributing to the integration, balanced development and economic and social cohesion of the Member States through the long-term financing of capital investment furthering the Union's objectives.

In 2002, the EIB granted loans totalling approximately EUR 39 600 million, of which 5 426 million went towards projects in Spain.