Irish-based lessor Lease Corporation International has begun rebuilding its fleet after selling almost its entire portfolio last November.

LCI, which prior to selling 20 aircraft to Global Aviation Asset Management was the world's 17th largest leasing company, did not make this year's Airline Business survey because at the time of the survey it only had two aircraft in its portfolio. But chief executive Crispin Maunder says LCI has since acquired one Boeing 747-400 freighter and will soon compete the purchase of four new widebody aircraft valued at $750 million that will be delivered in 2009 and 2010.

Crispin Maunder LCI W200LCI, Maunder adds, is also negotiating several acquisitions of used aircraft which are collectively worth $200 million. All the deals should give LCI a $1.1 billion portfolio by the end of 2010. LCI had a $1.2 billion portfolio before the sale of 20 aircraft to GAAM and Maunder says eventually LCI hopes to again reach and perhaps exceed the $1.2 billion figure.

But he adds LCI does not aspire to become a very big leasing company. LCI, before the GAAM deal, was the largest privately owned leasing company and is "not in it for the status", Maunder says.

LCI is also not interested in speculative orders and will only commit to aircraft that will be delivered within the next couple of years. "We're very small and very nimble," Maunder says.

LCI wants to stick with young aircraft and long-term leases to "good credit airlines". Before the sale to GAAM its fleet had an average age of only three years with major carriers as its customers, including Air France, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Maunder says LCI was actually not planning to sell such a large portion of its fleet but got an unsolicited offer that was too good to pass up given now is perhaps the peak of the market. "We weren't trying to sell it, but we started to get approaches from a number of lessors," he says.

Source: Airline Business