Copa plans SLBs for new aircraft

Washington DC
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Copa Airlines plans to increasingly use sale and leasebacks (SLB) to finance the delivery of new aircraft.

The Panama-based carrier wants to own about 60% of its fleet and lease about 40%, says Victor Vial, chief financial officer of Copa, during an earnings call on 7 February. It owns about 70% and leases about 30% of its fleet currently.

"Bank finance is still very attractive," he says. "[But] it's not a bad idea to mix it up a little more and have more operating leases, which gives you, as you know, flexibility in your plan as it allows you to return aircraft when the lease expires or extend the lease and then manage your capacity with some flexibility."

Copa closed sale and leaseback deals for eight Boeing 737-800s with MC Aviation Partners (MCAP) and SMBC Aviation Capital in January. The MCAP deal covers for four aircraft that will be delivered this year and the SMBC deal four that will be delivered in 2014.

The airline has seven 737-800s deliveries scheduled this year and six in 2014, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.