Leasing pays big wages but low tax

Leasing pays big wages but low tax

By John Whelan

The most lucrative jobs in Ireland are held in the rapidly growing aviation leasing industry, where pay has soared by almost 275% in 10 years, according to official figures.

With the CSO figures showing the average annual pay was €165,000 at the end of 2016, recruitment firms say pay climbed by a further 25% last year.

However, corporation tax paid by aircraft leasing firms has been at relatively low levels. The industry paid only a 6% tax rate on its 2016 profits, well below the 15% rate paid as recently as 2009.

Pay has increased by an average 22% a year in the last 10 years, based on the CSO figures. The high salaries are being driven by the specialist skills required to execute long-term lease contracts for aircraft valued at between €76m for the Boeing 737 plane flown by Ryanair, to the €205m Airbus A330s used by Aer Lingus for its transatlantic flights.

Salaries have also been driven by the continued expansion of the aircraft leasing business both in Ireland and internationally. There are now 1,482 people employed in the leasing industry here, three times the number working back in 2007, and most of the people in the industry are Irish nationals.

Many of the top positions are held by ex-Guinness Peat Aviation executives, who learned their trade under its founder, Tony Ryan, the founder of GPA.

However, the industry’s high wages has attracted the best financial brains from Aer Lingus and Ryanair as well as further afield, according to experts.

Two-thirds of sales are generated from leases sold to airlines outside Europe and in China, which now accounts for a 14% share, as well as Russia with 6% of all sales. Aircraft leasing to the US, the largest market, is mainly handled by US leasing corporations located there.

The revenue generated across the Irish leasing industry in 2016 was €14.3bn, yielding a healthy 21% net profit of €3bn.

Tax as a percentage of profits has followed a downward trend and will likely be a worry for the Revenue Commissioners, coming soon after the challenges Ireland has faced from the EU in recent years over the low corporation tax deals in other industries.

The most lucrative jobs in Ireland are held in the rapidly growing aviation leasing industry, where pay has soared by almost 275% in 10 years, according to official figures.

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