McDonnell Douglas (MDC) is hoping to revive flagging sales of its narrowbody-aircraft range, with the planned establishment of a joint-venture leasing company in partnership with Taiwanese interests.

Under a letter of intent signed with Taiwan-based Central Leasing, the US manufacturer plans to take a 20% stake in the new joint-venture company, to be named Seanho (or Fairwind) Leasing. Central plans to take another 20% and to place the remaining stock with six of its own shareholders, including Cathay Life Insurance, Formosa Plastic and Shin Kong Life Insurance.

According to Central Leasing president Chen Ying Chieh, the company has already ordered four MDC MD-90s and four MD-95s, and is to acquire another three secondhand MD-82 twinjets. He adds, however, that the aircraft deal is contingent on finalising a joint-venture agreement with MDC.

The first MD-90 is scheduled to be handed over in August, and the second in September, with the remainder due for delivery in 1998 and 1999. Central claims already to have found a non-Taiwanese operator for the first five aircraft, but refuses to identify the lessee.

"This is ultimately going to be a global business but, for now, we're targeting China and South-East Asia," explains Chen. Seanho will initially have a $100 million capitalisation and it is planned to register it in the USA and in a yet-to-be-determined Asian country. "We've not decided where. It might be Singapore or Taiwan, depending on tax breaks. That's now being discussed," he says.

Chen does not rule out inviting other companies to invest in Seanho, including local leasing firms. Hwa Hsia Leasing already has three MD-90s on a sale-leaseback arrangement with Taiwan domestic carrier Uni Airways and has another three twinjets on order for delivery in 1998.

Central says that it had earlier been approached to join another planned joint venture, to be established by China Aircraft Leasing,Hwa Hsia and Taiwan Aerospace. Despite former GPA leasing-company head James King completing a feasibility study and support from Boeing, the would-be shareholders failed to raise the capital to launch the Leasco company (Flight International, 13-19 March, 1996).

Taiwan's flag carrier, China Airlines, has ordered an additional Airbus A300-600R for delivery in early 1999. The Pratt & Whitney-PW4158-powered aircraft is the fifteenth A300 ordered by the airline, 14 of which are in service.

Source: Flight International