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Commercial strategy, Expert view, Financial investments

Aviation leasing – a year in review 

June 12, 2023

A look back at 2022, a pivotal year for the leasing community.

Lance Hooks
Harry Chan

By Lance Hooks and Harry Chan, Key Account Managers at Cirium

2022 was a pivotal year for Cirium to build on our commitment and long term, on-going support for our Dublin and Shannon-based leasing community. It was also the year in which the recovery of the commercial airline markets we all serve continued to gather strength.

In the period since January 2022, we have seen many encouraging indicators of improving industry health. Among these have been re-marketing activity, and leased aircraft utilisation.

We have captured over 1,000 lease placements (newly agreed leases, excluding lease extensions) for Western built airliners; with Ireland’s lessors playing a key role in powering this market recovery.

aviation leasing

Our chart shows ~600 lease placements (approaching 60% of the total) agreed by Ireland’s lessors over this period; pressure on lease rates and margins does remain, but market indicators are healthy, and trending up.

Leased aircraft utilization also shows positive signs; using satellite-tracked data, driven by our partnership with Aireon, our analysis focused on global total airborne hours for leased airliners, charting average monthly totals for a range of the most numerous leased jet and turboprop aircraft types.

The data highlights an across-the-board increase in monthly utilization for these types, and we would expect to see that trend continuing to some degree, though perhaps not as pronounced during the summer.

As an industry we have seen increases in fare and load factors, directly impacting our business travel, and the bookings of our holidays. Cirium’s Traffic & Fares data driven by our GDS partner, show significant improvements in global passenger numbers and average fares (admittedly off a low base created by COVID).

Our chart below shows how international (Cross-Region) and intra-Asia traffic has seen the largest year on year growth, February 2023 passenger data shows a growth of over 50% compared to February 2022.

Among all regions, intra-Asia fares have increased most significantly (by almost 33%), followed by intra-Australasia and intra-North America (by almost 30%), the Asia and Australasia data mostly based on the delayed COVID recovery in China and Australasia (where average yield also increased by an average of 17%).

Meanwhile, throughout the past year, ESG has continued to be a growing discussion topic, with more urgency as an industry to decarbonize.

Wanderlust, connectivity with our globally spread family and friends, and uncovering new and different experiences is part of what makes us human, however we need to be conscious that new regulations (for example ETS without allowances, CORSIA, CSRD etc) are closer to becoming part of our travel decisions.

While we are seeing higher utilisation, and an ever-increasing leased fleet, Scope 3 emissions from that leased fleet have inevitably increased in the past year. Based on our Global Emissions Monitor, we measured emissions of the leased fleet based on actual utilization per MSN (accounting also for aircraft engines and configuration, operating weights, seat totals, load factors, taxi time etc). We found that 10% more aircraft are operating and emitting 30% more CO2 (as a result of higher utilization). However more positively, and perhaps a truer representation of evaluating progress, emission intensity (per ASK) has decreased by 5% since January 2022.

Learn more today about how Cirium can help lessors to drive smarter investments.

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