Robust demand to spur aircraft leasing

Updated: 2015-06-06 14:12

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai(China Daily)

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Robust demand to spur aircraft leasing

Smaller aircraft on display at an aviation expo in Shanghai. Aircraft demand in China remains strong, despite the global headwinds. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's growing demand for smaller aircraft and rising enthusiasm for budget flights will provide huge growth opportunities for aircraft leasing companies, an industry major said on Thursday.

AerCap Holdings NV, the world's largest independent aircraft leasing company, said aircraft demand in China remains strong, despite the global headwinds.

Aengus Kelly, chief executive of the Netherlands-based company, said growth opportunities exist particularly for smaller aircraft, typically single-aisle jets which can carry about 180 passengers, such as those from the Airbus A320neo family, as a result of the rising demand in China.

Kelly made the remarks at an airline finance conference in Shanghai.

The leasing company signed an agreement in January with the Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines Co Ltd to lease 24 Air-bus A320neo family aircraft. The A320/321neos will be delivered to China Southern between 2016 and 2019.

AerCap will continue to invest heavily in the China market to leverage the market demand for air traffic, said Kelly. The leasing company's preference is for new-generation Airbus and Boeing single-aisle jets, and the latest widebody 787 Dreamliner and the A350, according to Kelly.

"We will keep eyes on China-made jets in the future," said Kelly, adding that it would be a while before Chinese aircraft makers develop mature products and markets.

The economic slowdown which has affected many sectors in China has not dented demand for leasing aircraft, because many carriers have been making decade-long plans for the fast-growing market, said Kelly.

According to data provided by the Sydney-based Center for Aviation, China may need 6,020 new aircraft valued at about $870 billion to meet growth by 2033.

Boeing's current market outlook expects China to overtake the United States as the world's biggest aircraft market by 2032.

Every week nearly 70,000 flights take off or land within China, accounting for 10 percent of the total global air traffic, according to data from the International Air Transport Association.

In China, aircraft leasing, a capital-heavy sector, has been growing steadily and seeing increasing numbers of players, including those developed by local lenders and financial institutions, such as BOC Aviation, an arm of Bank of China Ltd.

Giant players by fleet size (more than 100 aircraft) such as AerCap and GE Commercial Aviation Services take a combined 47 percent market share in China, while smaller domestic ones (more than 40 aircraft) which include ICBC Financial Leasing Co Ltd and BOC Aviation, take a combined market share of 31 percent.