Boeing is in discussions with around 20 airlines regarding the creation of a leasing arm to provide 717s. The plan, dubbed "Airplanes Plus", could signal the creation of a GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) style lessor which would buy all the models in Boeing's product line for onward lease.

"We are looking at setting up a pool of 25 to 50 717s which we will offer on power-by-the-hour leases," says Mike Bair, president of Boeing's Commercial Airplane Services division. "We are in active discussions with airlines about what the lease package would look like."

Sources suggest the project could be given the go-ahead within six months. Bair says that Boeing would build a standardised version of the slow-selling aircraft which would be typically offered on leases of three to five years, "or even shorter". The aircraft are expected to be managed within the Boeing Capital portfolio, although 717 lessors Bavaria and Pembroke could also be included in the programme.

If the project goes ahead, the portfolio could expand into "a substantial fleet within a year or two", says Bair, and include used aircraft acquired through sale and lease- back deals.

The move would effectively provide Boeing with a transparent equipment leasing division similar to the GECAS arm of General Electric. It comes as part of a drive by the US manufacturer to expand its share of the aircraft services sector as it looks for ways to grow and diversify its global business.

Source: Flight International