Our aviation finance team has made it to the end of its first complete year since its relaunch in summer 2017 – and it has been a big one! We have worked on transactions involving over 100 aircraft and 19 different jurisdictions, we have met with clients and friends in Dublin, New York, Hong Kong and London, and we have seen our renewed team go from strength to strength as we welcomed new members in Paris and the United States.
The three major trends we have seen over the last year are:
- Increasing presence in and attention given to Hong Kong as an emerging aviation finance hub, with lessors opening new local offices, financiers developing China-specific structures and start-up airlines beginning to grow.
- No easing of interest in mid-life aircraft, as manufacturer delays continue to affect delivery schedules and passenger demand continues to grow. This need for capacity is providing ongoing opportunities as lessors and airlines move to accommodate the growth and adapt to market conditions that can change abruptly.
- Building momentum in addressing the various gender-balance issues that have gained attention over the course of 2018, with more initiatives underway in relation to improving female pilot numbers and increasing attention being paid by the industry and the press after the first round of mandatory (for employers with more than 250 employees) gender-pay-gap reporting early in the year. The publication of the Hampton-Alexander Review in November also highlighted the issues relating to the number of women in senior corporate leadership positions, and with Air France-KLM appointing a female CEO and chairman of the board of directors in December, we have already seen positive changes here.
In terms of outlook, we expect to see more airlines seeking dual UK/EU operating licences as they prepare for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (as Ryanair, Wizz Air and EasyJet have already done), and to see increasing activity in Hong Kong as the financing opportunities there continue to develop.
We wish you all a very happy new year, and look forward to working with you on a successful and productive 2019.