A series of major deals have been announced within just a few hours of each other this morning, markedly changing the outlook at the end of the year in the airliner market.

First German tour giant TUI Group disclosed that it had ordered 65 aircraft from Boeing in a fleet-replacement deal valued at €2 billion ($2.6 billion).

Details of the order, revealed by TUI today as it set out plans to restructure its business activities, have yet to become clear. But the tour operator says the aircraft will be delivered from 2010.

It says the aircraft will be used for replacement rather than expansion, with no overall increase in capacity. It also revealed that it is thinking of entering the aircraft leasing business itself with a partner.

TUI Group includes seven in-house carriers: Hapagfly, Hapag-Lloyd Express, Thomsonfly, TUIfly Nordic, Arkefly, Corsair and Jetair. These carriers operate a combined fleet of more than 120 aircraft, more than half of which are Boeing 737 models.

Soon after that deal was announced, news came from Singapore that major Asian lessor Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise (SALE) had been fully acquired by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of China (BOC) for $965 million in cash - putting to bed speculation that Dubai Aerospace Enterprise was the favoured bidder.

BOC is a leading Chinese commercial bank, which operates in both domestic and overseas markets. Its business comprises three key segments: corporate banking, personal banking, and treasury products.

Singapore-headquartered SALE was established in 1993 and is 35.5%-owned by Singapore Airlines, 35.5% by WestLB and 29% by two Singapore Government investment arms.

Following the takeover, which was finalised today, SALE will operate as a stand-alone unit within Bank of China.

SALE says: “The resources and commitment provided by Bank of China as sole shareholder will position SALE to build on its past success and to accelerate its expansion as a leading player in the aircraft leasing and finance business.”

It will continue to be headquartered in Singapore and will be run by the existing management team, led by chief executive Robert Martin, although BOC says that it will appoint some directors to SALE’s board following the acquisition.SALE is a major player in the Asian leasing market. It owns 63 aircraft, manages 14 aircraft for third parties and has firm orders for a further 28. Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s form the backbone of the lessor’s fleet.

Bank of China says that, on 30 September, SALE's total assets amounted to $3.1 billion, its total debt stood at $2.28 billion and its equity totalled $535 million.

And as word of that transaction sank in, Dutch-based lessor AerCap, formerly known as Debis AirFinance, announced that it is to acquire 20 new Airbus A330-200s from the airframer.

It has signed a firm agreement with Airbus to purchase the twin-jets although it has not indicated an engine selection or delivery dates.

AerCap chief executive Klaus Heinemann says the order will enable the lessor to respond to market needs in the passenger sector, pointing out that a large number of operators use the A330.

“Given the limited production capacities of the aircraft manufacturers, AerCap orders placed directly with manufacturers are an important part of ensuring the expansion of our portfolio for the remainder of this decade,” he adds.

AerCap, whose portfolio features over 300 owned and managed aircraft, jointly ordered 70 Airbus A320-family jets a year ago for the AerVenture operation formed with Kuwaiti firm LoadAir. AerCap has signed purchase agreements for more than 120 aircraft in the past year.


Source: FlightGlobal.com