Sberbank Leasing eyes more operating leases

Washington DC
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Russia's Sberbank Leasing is hoping to conclude operating leases of 100 aircraft in the year ahead, after announcing a deal today to acquire 12 Boeing 737-800s for an operating lease to Transaero.

The lessor, a subsidiary of Russia's Sberbank, already offers financial leases of aircraft to several Russian airlines. The 737-800 deal announced today will be its first operating lease transaction.

Sberbank chief executive Herman Gref says that the lessor is hoping to conclude operating leases on 100 additional aircraft in the year ahead with Russian airline customers. About 80% of the 100 aircraft are expected to be 737 narrowbodies, which will be the "most useful" aircraft in Russia, he says.

The lessor is in talks with several Russian carriers, including Aeroflot, he says.

The 12 737-800s for Transaero will be delivered from 2015 to 2016.

Sberbank Leasing says it has more than 40 aircraft on financial leases to airlines, including four Boeing 747s as well as a number of 737s and Russian aircraft.

The lessor's director of international business development Pavel Piskun tells Flightglobal that the company's decision to offer operating leases opens it up to a residual value risk, but the lessor believes it will benefit from the much higher margins that operating leases will offer.