Air Lease Corporation earlier this week confirmed that it had ordered 50 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The aircraft leasing company’s most recent order follows a deal with Airbus made in December for 116 aircraft.

ALC, founded in 2010 by Hungarian billionaire Steven Udvar-Házy, says the orders come from increased demand in the marketplace. ALC boss John L. Plueger commented:

“We had a strong fourth quarter and second half of 2021 that benefited from continuing airline industry recovery, as seen in our cash collections, operating metrics, fleet expansion, and record lease placements. We resumed our aircraft sales program and concluded the largest aircraft order in ALC’s history to support the growing demand we are seeing in the marketplace.”

Mr Pleuger went on to add with the worst of pandemic behind them; many airlines are now focusing on fleet modernisation, likely as they look to reduce costs to boost their long-term recovery.

Airbus A330neo
ALC outlined plans to convert several A330neos into freighters | © New York-Air

Half of all aircraft are now leased.

It is estimated that over half the global fleet of commercial aircraft are leased. The pandemic highlighted to airlines the vital importance of preserving cash reserves, and leasing planes go a long way to reducing upfront costs. Additional benefits to airlines include a higher degree of adaptability across their fleet.

Detractors of the aircraft lessor market often point to the number of parked, or essentially unused, aircraft, but ALC claims to boast a fleet utilisation rate of 99.8% in 2021.

“We have a globally diversified customer base comprised of 118 airlines in 60 countries as of December 31, 2021. As of February 16, 2022, all aircraft in our fleet, except for one aircraft, were subject to lease agreements or letters of intent.”

ALC also outlined its interest in expanding its services outside of commercial aircraft, following a trend being seen more often across the industry by converting aircraft into freighters. Likely as these aircraft are more immune to passenger travel restrictions and offer airlines much-needed income in the wake of the pandemic.

Will the airline industry continue to shift towards leasing rather than owning? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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