LARA editor Mark Thomas summarises the latest happenings across the low-fare and regional aviation industry.
The end of the year may be approaching but there’s no apparent festive slowdown as far as the aircraft leasing sector is concerned.
The past week has seen a number of deliveries and deals, with Ireland’s Avolon stealing much of the limelight after placing an order for 100 A320neo with Airbus, in a US$11.5 billion deal. The 75 A320neo and 25 A321neo will start being delivered from 2023.
Dómhnal Slattery, CEO, says the company was “locking in growth well into the next decade” and added that the order “affirms our belief in the medium-term market outlook.”
One of its busiest customers is Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas, which confirmed it is accelerating its fleet renewal and executing lease agreements for 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with Avolon. It will receive the 11 jets during the second half of 2019.
Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) was also busy, confirming the lease of seven Embraer E190s to French regional carrier HOP! from its order book. The latest seven jets brings the airline’s total E-Jet fleet to 32 (it also has 15 ERJ145s).
Another three E190s were also ordered by NAC from Embraer, firming up a $156 million deal unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show and which will bring its own E-Jet fleet up to 158. Last week it also committed to lease two E195s and an E175 to Africa’s Air Burkina.
Not to be outdone, Air Lease Corporation sealed deals for a pair of A321neos for Air Macau, and a new B737 MAX 9 on long-term lease for Aeromexico, for delivery in the second half of next year. That adds to two B737-800s and three B787-9s it already has on lease to the airline, with a fourth Dreamliner coming in the spring.
CDB Aviation, meanwhile, delivered the first of six aircraft to TAP Air Portugal, a new A321neo. A second will be handed over this month, with two more in 2019, along with two A330-900neos in the second quarter.
Last but not least, TrueNoord delivered its fourth ATR 72-600 turboprop to Indonesia’s Wings Air, marking the culmination of the deal with the regional carrier. The aircraft were the first new factory aircraft to be purchased and leased by TrueNoord, with CEO Anne-Bart Tieleman highlighting its long-term plan to “build up a strong portfolio of young regional aircraft types with a good global spread and leased to experienced, market-leading operators.”
As the holidays approach, airlines appear determined to switch on their Christmas lights and enjoy unwrapping a couple of extra flying gifts for themselves before the leasing sector’s year is done.
The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.
Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes is accelerating its fleet renewal and modernisation plan with the execution of operating lease agreements for 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with Irish-based lessor Avolon.
The airline says that as a result of operational gains and favourable market conditions, it has increased the pace of its plan and will receive the 11 aircraft during the second half of 2019. It will maintain its capacity discipline, it adds, and maintain the flexibility of its fleet plan. The ramp up will not alter its planned capacity, as the carrier plans to simultaneously return and/or sell B737 Next Generation aircraft under operating and finance leases.
GOL launched operations with the 737 MAX 8 in July this year, and compared to the airline’s B737-800NG aircraft, the MAX 8 has decreased fuel consumption on the carrier’s routes by approximately 15%. The jet’s increased range has also allowed it to further diversify its route network and begin operating flights to North America – the airline’s new Brasilia-Orlando route is currently the longest commercial 737 flight in history.
In addition to four new international destinations recently announced – Miami, Orlando, Quito and Cancun – the additional MAX 8s will allow GOL to launch a new international destination every quarter over the next two years.
Paulo Kakinoff, GOL’s CEO, said: “By accelerating our fleet renewal plan to this new technology, we will be able to further reduce our costs and open up more international destinations for our customers.”
GOL has an order for 135 MAX aircraft to be delivered through 2028 and is currently the largest 737 operator in Latin America.
Avolon said the MAX 8s will come from its existing order book, with Felipe Campos, the lessor’s head of Latin America, saying it was “delighted to support GOL as they work creatively to accelerate their fleet renewal plans. Our relationship with the GOL team extends back to the earliest days of the airline and this transaction ensures that our partnership will continue well into the future.”
Aeromexico will receive a new Boeing 737 MAX 9 from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) on long-term lease in the second half of next year.
The Mexican carrier already has two B737-800s and three B787-9s on lease from ALC, with a fourth Dreamliner scheduled for delivery in the spring of 2019. The MAX 9, powered by LEAP-1B28 engines, is coming from the Los Angeles-based lessor’s existing order book with Boeing.
Steven F. Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of ALC, described Aeromexico as a long-time customer, adding: “This 737 MAX 9 aircraft will significantly enhance the airline’s fleet operations and passenger experience as part of Aeromexico’s fleet modernisation programme.”
Andres Conesa, the airline’s CEO, said: “Aeromexico has a long-standing relationship with ALC and we are delighted to add this new 737 MAX 9 aircraft to our fleet to further strengthen our international operations and growing route network.”
The Mexican flag carrier operates more than 600 daily flights, mostly from Mexico City International Airport, and has a fleet of 133 aircraft made up of B787 and B737 aircraft and Embraer 170 and 190s.
PT Wings Abadi, operating as Wings Air, has taken delivery of its fourth new ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft on lease from regional specialist TrueNoord.
The leasing company has already integrated three aircraft into the Wings Air fleet in August, October and November this year, with this delivery marking the culmination of the deal with the regional carrier, a subsidiary of Lion Air Group.
Wings Air focuses on domestic routes and also serves as a feeder airline for its parent airline in Indonesia. Edward Sirait, CEO of Lion Air Group, said, “We are delighted to start a new relationship with TrueNoord, a specialist regional aircraft lessor, and we look forward to expanding this commercial partnership over the years.”
The aircraft are the first new factory aircraft to be purchased and leased by TrueNoord, with CEO Anne-Bart Tieleman commenting: “It has been an exciting experience for us over the past five months.”
Tieleman, continued, “These aircraft sow the seeds of our ultimate vision and long term plan to build up a strong portfolio of young regional aircraft types with a good global spread and leased to experienced, market leading, operators.
“Wings Air currently flies 270 routes across Indonesia mostly consisting of short-haul flights of less than one hour. Their fleet is exclusively comprised of propeller-based aircraft, allowing the airline to serve difficult routes and airstrips that only turboprop aircraft can service.”
Tieleman continued: “Countries with geographical infrastructure challenges, like Indonesia which is made up of thousands of small islands, rely on air transport to do business, connect to education, healthcare, and families. It is vital for these nations to have a modern, reliable aviation sector that delivers access beyond other more time consuming travel options. TrueNoord are proud to be part of the chain that provides dependable, modern aircraft enabling regional airlines to enhance lives and build prosperity.”
The aircraft are all provided on long-term operating leases in association with Transportation Partners and ATR. Financing is provided under TrueNoord’s recent term loan warehouse facility supported by Morgan Stanley, NORD/LB Norddeutsche Landesbank and Barclays.
ATR chief executive, Stefano Bortoli, said: “ATR repeatedly proves itself as a first class investment asset for lessors, financiers and investors confirming its attractive return and high residual value.”
TrueNoord said it is “firmly establishing its footprint in South East Asia” with this deal following TrueNoord’s purchase of two Embraer E190s operated by Mandarin Airlines in May. TrueNoord added that “several other opportunities are currently in development across the region.”