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Interview: China is major player in global aircraft leasing market, says expert

By Zhang Qi (Xinhua)    15:32, January 23, 2019

DUBLIN, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- China has now become a major player in the global aircraft leasing market despite its short history of involvement in the marketplace, said an industry expert on Tuesday.

The Chinese leasing companies have become involved in the marketplace particularly over the last three to five years, but they now own approximately 1,600 or nearly 15 percent of the world's 11,000 leased aeroplanes, said Michael Duff, managing director of The Airline Analyst, a London-based consultancy in the aviation finance sector.

"By market value, the share is even higher. It is something like 20 percent of the world's leased fleet or 70 billion U.S. dollars out of the 350 billion," said Duff during an interview with Xinhua at Airfinance Journal Dublin 2019, an annual conference widely known in the world's aviation finance sector.

The conference started here at The Convention Center Dublin on Tuesday morning.

Duff was a keynote speaker at the opening session of the three-day conference which, according to organizers, has drawn more than 2,000 delegates from all over the world.

The Chinese leasing companies are also financing a large portion of the world's new aeroplane deliveries from the manufacturers of Boeing, Airbus and others, he said, commenting on China's contribution to the world's aircraft leasing industry which used to be dominated by rich and developed countries as the aircraft leasing industry demands a huge input of capital.

But Chinese leasing companies are also faced with challenges.

"The big challenge for them going forward is the re-marketing skills and capability," said Duff.

"When their planes come to the end of their lease with the existing airline, they have to have a strong marketing presence globally in order to be able to re-lease the aeroplanes to other airlines," he explained.

Duff predicted that China's 20 percent share in the global aircraft leasing market will probably stay where it is for the next few years due to the fact that "it has grown so much" over the last few years.

China did not get involved in aircraft leasing business in a massive way until 2007 when it allowed a few of its banking giants to form their leasing companies.

ICBC Financial Leasing Company Ltd. (ICBC Leasing) is one of the earliest leasing companies established in China by the country's largest banking group Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. In 2010, ICBC Leasing set up an overseas arm in Dublin as Ireland is a global aircraft leasing center.

"By the end of September 2018, our aircraft assets value alone have reached 68.1 billion RMB yuan (slightly over 10 billion U.S. dollars) and the number of leased aircraft under our management has reached 182," said Xu Wei, general manager of the Ireland branch of ICBC Leasing.

According to Xu, there are nearly a dozen Chinese leasing companies now operating in Ireland and they have played a positive role in consolidating Ireland's position as a global leader in the aviation finance sector, though some believe their presence has intensified the price competition in the industry.

One source from the aviation finance sector, who declined to be identified, said the competition is good for airlines as about 40 percent of the aircraft operated by airlines worldwide are leased ones and the airlines can now lease the planes at a lower price thanks to the competition.

According to Industrial Development Authority, a state agency to woo foreign investment in Ireland, about 63 percent of all the commercial leased aircraft in the world are owned and managed by the leasing companies registered in Ireland.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Shi Xi, Liang Jun)

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