CIT Aerospace's confirmation of an order for 50 more Airbus aircraft (35 A320s and 15 A330s) renews its battle with rival Boullioun for third place in the airliner leasing sector. New York-based CIT now owns or has ordered 90 new jets, of which it says about a quarter have been placed on leases of five years or more.

The latest order, the third with Airbus or Boeing in less than two years, takes CIT's orderbook to 90 aircraft worth $5 billion - 20 A330-200s, 60 A320 family narrow-bodies and 10 Boeing 737-700/800 Next Generation aircraft. CIT already manages a fleet of around 90 in-service aircraft, against around 70 in service with Boullion, which has 102 aircraft on order - although the Seattle-based company also has a 50% holding in Singapore Aircraft Leasing, with its portfolio of 27 in -service aircraft and 42 orders. Both lessors still rank well behind General Electric Capital (GECAS) and International Lease Finance.

CIT Aerospace president Jeff Knittel says of its number three spot: "We want to be of that ilk in terms of size. We'll continue to grow to meet demand, but we'll never match the size of GECAS or ILFC. We play a different role."

CIT holds a large number of options and Knittel hints that further orders are in the works. But he rules out following ILFC and GECAS into the A3XX/747X ultra-large airliner market. "We'll not get into the very large size at the moment," he says.

Source: Flight International