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Lessors unlikely to manage 50% of fleet within 10 years: Ascend

Flightglobal's Ascend consultancy believes it is unlikely the share of the world's passenger fleet that is managed by lessors will reach 50% within the next 10 years.

Speaking during a webinar on 5 May, Ascend's head of consultancy Rob Morris noted that had trends up to 2008 continued, lessors would have been on course to control 50% of the world passenger fleet by 2022. However, "stagnation" in the leasing market has changed the outlook.

Some 40% of the operating-lease fleet from seven years ago has now been replaced and, based on this trend, Ascend foresees some 3,100 aircraft exiting that fleet in the next seven years. Morris does not see evidence of an increase in the average retirement age.

Ascend predicts that the global passenger fleet at the end of 2022 will be 25,500 aircraft, of which 7,220 will be controlled by lessors.

In order just to retain their current 42% share of the market, lessors would need to acquire 6,600 new aircraft, or 57% of all new deliveries – worth an estimated $490 billion – by 2022, says Morris.

And to reach a 50% share, lessors would need to add 8,630 new aircraft to their portfolios over the next seven years. That is equivalent to 75% of predicted deliveries, and worth some $643 billion.

However, Morris says the lessor-controlled fleet continues to grow in "absolute terms" and believes this trend will continue. He predicts there will be net growth of 3,400 aircraft in the 100-plus seat category over the next 10 years.

For lessors to reverse the stagnation, a number of factors would have to come into play. Morris argues that, in addition to a rise an interest rates, there would need to be slowing of airlines' profits, an increase in lessors' share of new deliveries, and market liberalisation leading to "incremental growth opportunities".

Other possibilities that would be influential include more start-up airlines, more recycling of older aircraft, a change in views on residual values, and lessor acceptance of lower returns.

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