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HELITECH: Lessor Waypoint warns of crowded market

Ireland-based Waypoint Leasing has warned of the limited size of the helicopter lease market, given the rising number of companies operating in the segment.

Waypoint launched at Heli-Expo in February this year, joining incumbents Milestone Aviation and Lease Corp International. A fourth company, Macquarie Helicopter Leasing, then arrived in July.

However, the space is becoming increasingly crowded, says Ed Washecka, chief executive officer of Waypoint.

“There’s not room for all those players if they all think they are going to have the same number of aircraft,” says Washecka. “Some of the other guys have said they want to be a certain size, but you have to ask: do they have the equity capital and how much has been invested?

“Air shows are littered with press releases saying this company is going to take 20 of this or that. But the fact is that the world is not big enough for all the people who want to be in [helicopter] leasing.”

He also believes it is a “mistake” to assume a successful lessor in the fixed-wing market can translate that into the rotary segment.

Waypoint marked its presence at Helitech with the announcement of a number of senior appointments, the majority of which have strong helicopter leasing backgrounds.

Additionally, it signed a support deal with Eurocopter to provide power-by-the-hour services for future customers using the European manufacturer’s helicopters.

Although it has no Eurocopter types on its books – so far it has acquired just two Sikorsky S-76C++s, and a pair of S-92s via sale and leaseback deals – Eurocopter’s market share means a fleet presence will be inevitable, says Washecka.

“We want our lessees to have power-by-the-hour support. It helps from the asset value perspective too,” he says.

The lessor also has tentative orders placed with AgustaWestland for a total of 41 helicopters, comprising four types ranging from the AW109 Grand New light twin, up to the super-medium AW189. However, Waypoint has not specified the exact make-up of the order, save for an intention to take one of each type beginning in early 2014.

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