Students of human psychology need look no further than the fable of the tortoise and the hare to understand the situation today in the region’s leasing sector. In the waning years of the boom, a number of new entrants made valiant plays, but some appear to have had to pause to reconsider. Despite the aviation boom in the Middle East, few new major regional entrants into this esoteric business have come into existence and, of those that have, the 2008 bust clearly had a major negative impact.
BOC Aviation (Hall 5, Stand D262) has grown from just another player in the aircraft leasing business to a prominent brand, and the world’s fifth largest aircraft lessor. Started in 1993 as Singapore Aircraft Leasing (Sale), it was acquired by Bank of China in December 2006 for $3.25 billion. In July 2007, its name was changed to BOC Aviation.
Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Bank (SMBC) beat more than 30 other bidders to complete the acquisition of RBS Aviation Capital on October 15, demonstrating the growing importance of leasing in new-airliner acquisitions. The bank’s new SMBC Aviation division intends to merge two other leasing companies owned by its shareholders to challenge for the number-three position in the leasing sector, controlling some 331 aircraft.
Fuel efficiency and its effect on the useful life of aging aircraft is a dominant factor in the thinking of aircraft leasing companies, which are increasingly helping credit-squeezed carriers to refresh their fleets. Their presence in the market for airliner acquisition has continued to grow in the last two decades, with operating leases now thought to account for almost 40 percent of total deals today.
Ireland-based aircraft lessor Avolon is speaking out against what it characterizes as irresponsible speculation that the economic life of modern airliners has been significantly reduced by the dismantling (for parts) of a number of relatively young aircraft, such as the Airbus A318. In an October 2 webcast, Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery and head of strategy Dick Forsberg presented the results of a study drawing on raw fleet data provided by consultancy Ascend, combined with its own 10-year projections.