Seeds for thriving sector sown by Ryan's GPA
Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30
Ireland's aircraft leasing business tends to fly under the public's radar.
That's despite this country being a global epicentre for the business, with the tax regime having been continuously updated over the years to ensure we can compete with rival cities for the business, such as Singapore.
Most of the world's top global leasing firms now have offices in Ireland and half the leased aircraft flying around the planet - 4,000 of them - have been leased out of Ireland and are managed from here.
That's about one-fifth of the global aircraft fleet.
The genesis for the sector in Ireland was Tony Ryan's Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA).
The former Aer Lingus executive (and Ryanair founder), turned it into a major international player, before it collapsed in the nineties after the first Gulf War began.
But GPA sowed the seeds for a sector that in the past two decades has blossomed.
Importantly, GPA helped to give birth to a specialised talent pool that can provide the range of functions needed by the sector, from finance to legal.
Today, there are over 30 aircraft leasing firms with operations in Ireland - a coup that is eyed enviously by other countries.
Peter Barrett, the chief executive of SMBC Aviation Capital, points out that while there's intense global competition for the international aircraft leasing business, Ireland has managed to keep a step ahead.
"There are certainly risks," he said, adding that he doesn't see them as being a threat to Dublin right now. "I think it's still very strong. But you always need to be on the front foot."
Mr Barrett worked with GPA, as did another poster boy for the industry here, Domhnal Slattery.
He founded the leasing business that eventually morphed into SMBC's Dublin operation.
Mr Slattery also founded and heads Avolon, which is currently exploring a stockmarket flotation that could value the business at around $2bn (€1.5bn).
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