Aircraft lessor AWAS would like to see a repeat performance of 2011 by growing its portfolio by up to 25 aircraft this year.
Ray Sisson, president and chief executive officer, AWAS, says the Dublin-based lessor has over $600 million invest in over $2.4 billion worth of aircraft. AWAS is looking for new, newer and mid-life narrowbodies, as well as widebodies aircraft.
"Last year we ended up buying $1.4 billion worth of aircraft with the CIT and GECAS portfolio acquisitions being the main transactions, but we also closed several smaller deals," he says.
"We have targeted a similar amount this year as we look to acquire between 15 and 25 aircraft, including portfolios."
Sisson admits activity was slow in the first half. "The market is a bit difficult at the moment to find assets in the secondary market because of funding issues. But, we have a robust pipeline of aircraft we could announce soon," he says,
In the second-hand market, AWAS has mostly acquired narrowbody aircraft but Sisson leaves the door open for widebody additions. "I am a big fan of widebodies. They create more revenue but they can also create more risks like reconfiguration costs," he says.
"My technical and finance teams can handle a wider range of aircraft and we know we can do it."
Despite a more uncertain economic environment AWAS's business strategy is focused on further growth.
"We will certainly be more aggressive in the sale and leaseback market," says Sisson, adding that AWAS' strategy is strictly one of "disciplined high yield".
"We have 240 aircraft in our portfolio worth $7 billion. By 2015, we will have $11.5 billion worth of assets and we will be further optimising our portfolio by buying and selling aircraft and investing into other aircraft."
AWAS has 83 new Airbus and Boeing narrowbody aircraft on backlog through 2015 as well as two A350-800s due in the second part of the decade.
The lessor's funding strategy has recently changed to reflect its ambitions. "We changed our finance team's focus from being reactive to proactive," says Sisson. "We want to source financing before AWAS actually needs the funds because it put us in a position where we can move quickly."
The lessor says it has the equity to cover every delivery from its orderbook. It recently secured $120 million loan facility from Investec to fund pre-delivery payments financings covering 20 A320 Family aircraft in AWAS' order pipeline that deliver over the next two years. The loan effectively provides AWAS with $240 million of PDP finance over a two-year period.
Earlier this year the lessor signed a PDP loan facility with Natixis transport Finance covering seven A320s while in 2011 it signed a PDP facility with Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank covering seven Boeing 737-800s.
"We are not in a rush. We can be patient and choose the right opportunities at the right time," comments Sisson.