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'No opportunity' in A330neo: SMBC chief

Lessor SMBC Aviation Capital has ruled out interest in the Airbus A330neo, instead focusing its energies on securing more sale-and-leaseback deals for the A350.

Although leaving the door open for the re-engined widebody, SMBC chief executive Peter Barrett says at the moment “it is not something we have considered”.

“We think we want to focus on the A350 where there’s a lot of opportunity,” said Barrett, speaking in Toulouse on 24 April, shortly before the lessor took ownership of its first A350 – a -900 variant from South Korea’s Asiana.

“The A330[neo] is relatively early in its development and we’ll keep a watching brief on it, but it’s not something we see as a particular opportunity at the moment,” he says.

He cites the “relatively small” number of orders from airlines for the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000-powered twinjet as a key reason for SMBC's reticence, as well as the number of existing commitments from lessors.

Of the 210 combined orders for the A330-800 and -900 variants, just over a quarter are from three leasing companies: Air Lease Corp, Avolon and CIT.

“We are very much focussing our energies on the A350 and we have a number of active sales-and-leaseback campaigns.

“We just see the A350 as the place we want to put our investment,” says Barrett. It is also keen on other new-generation widebodies like the Boeing 787, he says.

SMBC has already committed to financing Asiana’s initial six of 12 examples of the A350-900 via sale-and-leaseback transactions.

With its orderbook comprising solely of narrowbody types – both the current and re-engined variants of the A320 and 737 – SMBC continues to see “good demand” for new single-aisles, says Barrett.

It has already delivered a number of A320neos to operators GoAir and SAS, and will take its first 737 Max in the third quarter of next year for an undisclosed airline.

It has no current plans to place direct orders for widebodies, Barrett adds, but remain in dialogue with both airframers. “We are keeping an open mind, but we have not reached a point where we see the right opportunity.”

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