Monday 9 December 2019

Dublin aviation firm behind major Airbus planes deal

AWAS has expanded considerably since its early days. Stock photo: PA Wire
AWAS has expanded considerably since its early days. Stock photo: PA Wire

Tim Hepher

Irish leasing company AWAS has been disclosed as the purchaser of 15 current-generation A320-family jets from Airbus.

The European planemaker said yesterday that the Dublin-based lessor had placed an order for 12 A320ceo and three A321ceo aircraft, with a combined catalogue value of $1.5bn (€1.3bn).

Two industry sources said the deal had already appeared in the planemaker's monthly order data in May, when the name of the buyer remained undisclosed.

Airbus declined to comment.

The purchase, under new AWAS chief executive David Siegel, appears to mark a change of emphasis at the leasing firm, which has generally been cautious in recent years about buying directly from manufacturers, citing long waiting times for jets.

It has tended instead to buy from other lessors or through sale-and-leaseback deals with airlines.

Last month, however, AWAS cancelled a direct order for two A350-900 aircraft, according to Airbus data. AWAS was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier this year private equity firm Terra Firma rejected two approaches worth up to $2.2bn from a Chinese company for AWAS, which it moved to Ireland in 2006.

The offers were from Bohai Leasing, a unit of China's State-owned HNA Group, and already owner of rival Dublin-based aircraft leasing firm Avolon.

AWAS has expanded considerably since its early days as the leasing arm of now defunct Australian airline Ansett. It has a fleet of 257 airplanes.

Terra Firma bought 75pc of AWAS from Morgan Stanley in 2006 in a deal worth $2.5bn and later merged it with rival Pegasus. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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