Chinese consortium to buy plane-leasing firm

American International Group is set to sell nearly all of ILFC, the world’s second-largest plane-leasing business, to a Chinese consortium for up to $4.8bn (€3.7bn), giving the fastest growing aviation market easier and cheaper access to planes.

Chinese firms have shown interest in aircraft leasing before, and the deal would give China access to a global network of about 200 airlines in 80 countries. China is already ILFC’s largest market with 180 planes operating there, giving it 35% market share.

“It’s the biggest deal we have in the aircraft leasing world and it’s very ambitious,” said Paul Sheridan, head of Asia at aviation consultancy Ascend Advisor. “We believe there are not enough aircraft on order in China at the moment. It will help Chinese airlines get more aircraft.”

The world’s two largest planemakers — Airbus and Boeing — have predicted demand for $4.5 trillion worth of passenger jets over the next two decades, with about two-thirds of new planes sold in the Asia-Pacific region, and China as the biggest single market in value terms.

Analysts say China tends to balance its orders between Airbus and Boeing, partly for political reasons. This means China pays an effective premium for planes as the two manufacturers don’t have to compete as heavily for orders as they do elsewhere. ILFC’s order books could mean cheaper planes for China, industry experts say.


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