AerCap sees signs of growing confidence among airlines

NYSE-listed lessor’s Q1 revenues down 12% but it sees ‘pent up demand’ for travel

‘We are pleased to report a significant increase in our leasing activity,” says AerCap’s chief executive Aengus Kelly. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

‘We are pleased to report a significant increase in our leasing activity,” says AerCap’s chief executive Aengus Kelly. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Dublin-headquartered aircraft lessor, AerCap, has suggested green shoots may be forming in the aviation sector internationally. It says it signed 60 new leases with airlines in 15 different countries over the first three months of the year, as it witnessed the highest demand for planes since before the pandemic began.

The company, which recently announced its intention to form a $30 billion (€24.8bn) tie-up with GE Capital Aviation Services (Gecas), said it sees signs of growing confidence among airlines amid “significant pent-up consumer demand for air travel”, despite the travel restrictions still in place in many regions.

“We are pleased to report a significant increase in our leasing activity,” said AerCap’s chief executive, Aengus Kelly. “[It is] the highest demand we have seen in 18 months. We believe this progress reflects the growing confidence of our airline customers as they plan for the future.”

‘Green cert’

The European Union is in June expected to launch a “green certificate” system for passengers who are vaccinated, immune or who test negative for coronavirus, to facilitate tourism and intra-EU travel for the summer. Ireland has said it will sign up to the system, although the Government has suggested it may wait until later in the summer, when the vaccine rollout here is more advanced.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company reported revenues of $1.095 billion for the first three months of the year, down 12 per cent on the same period last year, during which the pandemic first hit the global economy and grounded many planes.

Basic lease rents fell 14 per cent to $889 million, AerCap said, due to “lease restructurings, transitions and the impact of airline bankruptcies” in the quarter. The firm’s fleet remained 96 per cent deployed during the period, however.

AerCap’s recently-announce deal to buy Gecas, which was formed out of the Tony Ryan-founded Irish lessor, Guinness Peat Aviation, will create the world’s largest aircraft leasing firm with 2,000 jets, 300 helicopters and 900 engines.

AerCap said it closed deals for $28.35 billion worth of debt facilities related to the Gecas acquisition during the first quarter.