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Online retail surge delivers new lease of life for older jets

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Flight path: Declan Kelly joined Aer Lingus after studying engineering before moving to Guinness Peat Aviation

Flight path: Declan Kelly joined Aer Lingus after studying engineering before moving to Guinness Peat Aviation

Flight path: Declan Kelly joined Aer Lingus after studying engineering before moving to Guinness Peat Aviation

Older aircraft are finding a new lease of life as freighters that are fuelling the boom in ecommerce.

The chief commercial officer of aircraft-leasing giant Gecas, Declan Kelly, told the Irish Independent that the demand for older jets has protected residual values for aircraft at the lower end of the market as lessors move them on to new operational lives.

"We've been selling [Boeing] 767s at returns that have absolutely surprised me," said Mr Kelly.

The 767 is a wide-body jet first deployed into commercial use in 1982. Last December, online retail giant Amazon announced that it was leasing 10 more 767-300 aircraft, to bring its total fleet to 50 jets.

The new 767s are being provided to Amazon by US outsourcing firm Air Transport Services.

"You're seeing the ecommerce trade totally taking off, so there's a lot of need for these older assets, to convert them into freighters and operate them," said Mr Kelly. "That has really protected the lower end of the market. We're doing a lot of it.

"When you have a need for an older aircraft that's coming out of the passenger world, and you put it into the freighter world, it really works. It really protects the residuals," said Mr Kelly.

Gecas, which has its operational base in Shannon, vies with Dublin-based AerCap for the title of the world's biggest aircraft lessor.

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