Air Berlin inks eight-jet sale and leaseback with new vehicle

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Air Berlin is to sell, and lease back, eight Boeing and Airbus aircraft to a newly-established leasing vehicle backed by Oaktree Capital Management.

The new lessor, Jackson Square Aviation, is purchasing seven Boeing 737-800s from the German carrier.

Three of these are leased to China's Shenzhen Airlines. The remaining four are still on order, due for delivery in the first half of 2011.

Air Berlin says the agreement also covers an Airbus A319 which it owns and operates. It adds that the transactions for the A319 and Shenzhen 737s will probably be concluded next month.

Chief financial officer Ulf Huttmeyer says: "It helps us reduce our net liabilities further, which is of particular advantage to us."

Air Berlin, which says it is "one of the first customers" of the new vehicle, has been restructuring its fleet, cutting back its orders for long-haul Boeing 787s and deferring deliveries of 737s.

San Francisco-based Jackson Square is backed by investment firm Oaktree Capital and managed by a team - including Rich Wiley, Scott Weiss and Toby Bright - with connections to Pegasus Aviation and Sky Holding.