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Ascend Consultancy Weekly Team Perspective: Lessor direct orders – a good bet paying off


In today’s strong demand environment with reduced delivery rates of new aircraft, a near term delivery slot is suddenly rare and highly prized.

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Thomas Kaplan Senior Valuations Analyst, ISTAT Appraiser

By Thomas Kaplan, Senior valuations consultant, Cirium Ascend Consultancy

During the depths of the pandemic, airlines and operating lessors with new aircraft deliveries due from Airbus or Boeing were typically happy to defer those deliveries if they could. The strategy of lessors having speculative orderbooks was in question as there was increased risk of having to accept delivery of unplaced aircraft, or placing those deliveries at depressed lease rates.   In today’s strong demand environment with reduced delivery rates of new aircraft, a near term delivery slot is suddenly rare and highly prized. With strengthening Market Lease Rates, the lessor strategy of having speculative orders now appears to be paying off.

Who are the lessors with the largest orderbooks and who have access to the prized near-term slots?

We will limit the analysis to Airbus and Boeing as they are the most backed-up in terms of orders with almost no availability before 2030, especially in the narrowbody segment. The operating lessor orderbook with Airbus and Boeing is over 2000 aircraft, with most due for delivery this decade.

Who are the lessors with the largest orderbooks and who have access to the prized near-term slots?
Source: Cirium Fleets Analyzer fleet data; Airbus and Boeing aircraft

As we expect the current supply and demand imbalance to persist at least through 2026, the conditions for placing lessor orders should remain favourable in this period. The below chart shows which lessors have scheduled deliveries from their orderbooks from now to the end of 2026. Avolon has the largest lessor orderbook with over 400 aircraft, however only a quarter of these are expected to be delivered in the next two and a half years. This also includes 32 A330-900neos, which do not have the same supply constraints as other types and thus lessens their early-slot advantage.

The below chart shows which lessors have scheduled deliveries from their orderbooks from now to the end of 2026.
Source: Cirium Fleets Analyzer fleet data; Airbus and Boeing aircraft

Air Lease Corporation and AerCap have the largest number of aircraft delivering in this time frame at over 200 and 150 respectively. However, in both cases according to Cirium fleet data, two thirds of these are already placed with airline lessees. If these placements were not negotiated recently during the tighter market conditions, that leaves only around 60 available jets with each lessor to place at good rates. Our database estimates that SMBC Aviation Capital has 75 unplaced narrowbodies due for delivery by 2026 which puts them in a strong position in this seller’s market. Our database may not capture all the negotiated placements and letters of intent, so remaining availability may be even less.

While stock prices move based on many factors, we note that Air Lease (AL) and AerCap (AER) stocks have performed well this year, increasing by ~10% and ~24% respectively since January.

In contrast, BOC Aviation, another publicly traded large lessor but with a fewer near-term orderbook positions, has seen its stock more flat, down around 4% YTD. Of course, these stock movements are not just because of an OEM backlog, but investors may want to take note of the current advantage these positions hold.

Given the lack of lessor orders for 2029 and beyond, lessors will need to order quickly if they want to make furthers bets on speculative delivery slots. Otherwise, the Purchase and Leaseback market will remain the only option for lessors to grow their fleet of new aircraft organically. This has historically been a far more competitive market and if lessors are not able to renew their speculative orderbooks, then it can only become even more competitive with consequences for pricing. But that is a story for another day.

Learn more about Cirium Fleets Analyzer.

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