LIMERICK-based aircraft lessor Nordic Aviation Capital expects to place a "large number" of the 18 aircraft it had on lease to failed UK carrier Flybe "very soon", according to the group's chief commercial officer, Jim Murphy.
Flybe had a fleet of 68 aircraft, mostly De Hallivand Dash 8-400s, with fewer than 10 Embraer regional jets.
Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) is the world's largest regional aircraft lessor, with a total fleet of more than 500 aircraft.
Despite the diabolical trading environment for airlines around the world due to Covid-19, Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent that NAC is confident of placing the 18 aircraft with new customers.
"NAC was not exposed to any of the other high-profile failures like Thomas Cook over the last 18 months, but what was clear from those failures was that the market absorbed the available aircraft very quickly and we don't see this as being any different," he said.
"Flybe had an extensive route network and provided essential services to many regions, so there is a huge vacuum to fill."
He said that despite the impact of Covid-19, Flybe routes are already being filled by other carriers.
Yesterday, Scotland-based Loganair said it will take up 16 domestic UK routes previously operated by Flybe, which had a total of 50 such routes.
"Most of Flybe's routes require regional aircraft and therefore, as the largest regional aircraft lessor, we have already been contacted by interested airlines, so we expect to place a large number of aircraft very soon," said Mr Murphy.
He added that while NAC is disappointed Flybe has ceased operations, "it has not come as a surprise".
"We have been working with the senior management of Flybe for some time to see how we could assist them and we are very sorry that all their hard work could not save the airline," said Mr Murphy.
"As a member of the wider aviation community, we feel for the 2,000 dedicated and hardworking people who today find themselves out of work."
While Flybe was in financial difficulties before the coronavirus emerged, the recent hit to bookings proved fatal. The carrier is part of the Connect Airways group that also includes Aer Lingus Regional operator Stobart Air. The Stobart group and a unit of Virgin Atlantic each own 30pc of Connect, with New York hedge fund Cyrus Capital Partners owning the remainder.
Mr Murphy said NAC is working to extract the aircraft it had on lease to Flybe from UK airports.
They're likely to be sent to maintenance facilities in Europe, he added.
The director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, said yesterday that the effect of the coronavirus on the airline industry has been "almost without precedent" and labelled it a "crisis".
He called on governments to boost the sector via tax and other reliefs.