US aviation equipment leasing specialist C-S Aviation Services (CSAS) is undertaking rapid and diversified expansion, with plans to buy new aircraft and enter the maintenance business.

CSAS was started in 1994 to provide exclusive management services to the S-C Aircraft Group of companies, the combined portfolio of which includes over 70 aircraft including Boeing 727s, 737s, Boeing MD-80s and Airbus A300B4s. Much of the backing is provided by international investor George Soros through his company Quantum Industrial Holdings.

The prime focus for business is the expansion of its A300B4 freighter leasing concern. CSAS is committed to up to 41 A300 cargo conversions from British Aerospace Aviation Services, and has placed around 17 of the freighters in Europe and North America. CSAS owns 28 A300B4s, including some which are in service with passenger airlines, while others are being converted to freighters.

CSAS' new chief financial officer Jim Walsh says that CSAS is now actively seeking more secondhand A300s for its freighter leasing business. Earlier this year, the company raised $150 million financing through Paine Webber and undertook securitisation financing on its MD-80 fleet to fund the purchase and lease of up to 20 additional A300B4s for freighter conversion. "We plan to undertake a securitisation later this year on the A300 fleet," says Walsh.

A deal to take a majority stake in Romanian maintenance company Romaero, is being finalised, says Walsh, which will be renamed C-S Romaero. The Bucharest based company already undertakes work on narrowbodied types, and is set to expand into widebody maintenance, and engine/avionics repair.

Although CSAS' primary strategic focus has until now been on older used aircraft that offer higher yield opportunities, Walsh says CSAS is considering expanding its portfolio with new aircraft, and may acquire on-order aircraft under sale/lease back deals.

Source: Flight International