Lease Corporation International (LCI), which signed a large helicopter order with AgustaWestland at last year’s Heli-Expo show, has announced an agreement with aerial services group Avincis (Booth No. C7211), which is leasing a new AW139. This will be operated for offshore crew changes in North Sea oil and gas fields by Avincis’s Aberdeen-based subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters.
“This is a welcome addition to Avincis’s 350-strong global fleet,” said Martin Whittaker, Avincis Group director of fleet and engineering.
“The AgustaWestland models are perfect fits for mission-critical crew transportation services,” added Crispin Maunder, LCI executive chairman.
At the 2012 Heli-Expo show, LCI placed a $400 million order with AgustaWestland for a mix of the new AW139/AW169/AW189 family, and these are set for delivery through 2017. The company, which has offices in Ireland, the UK and Singapore, entered the helicopter leasing market in 2012, with a focus on medium to heavy twin-engine helicopters weighing from 8,818 pounds to 18,739 pounds. It has already allocated a number of other helicopters from this order to undisclosed customers.
LCI, which already has a diverse airliner leasing portfolio, also is planning to place fresh orders with other rotorcraft manufacturers, according to CEO Mike Platt. Last year he told AIN that the company is also evaluating Eurocopter’s new EC175 twin and Bell’s 525 Relentless. In addition to the offshore sector, the leasing group is focusing on areas such as search and rescue and emergency medical services.
LCI estimates that there are currently some 9,000 helicopters that are more than 30 years old still active in the market and, in its view, this represents significant potential demand for leasing new equipment. “There are significant advantages to leasing helicopters,” explained Platt. “If you are buying an aircraft you have to take on debt and the loan-to-value ratio [allowed by banks] is going down every year and is currently only about 75 to 80 percent, compared with 85 percent, so that high down payments are required and there is no real return on these.” LCI also claims that it can provide shorter lead times for new rotorcraft deliveries without any down payment.
Platt claimed that LCI’s experience in the fixed-wing aircraft leasing business means that it has strong relationships with banks that allow it to deliver flexibility and creativity in structuring leases. Since being established by the Libra group in 2004, LCI has built up a leasing portfolio of airliners valued at almost $5 billion. This consists mainly of Airbus and Boeing types, but the company also is among the initial customers for Bombardier’s new CSeries narrowbody, with orders for 20 of these aircraft and options for 20 more.