Interviewer: What’s the Aviation finance landscape looking like in 2015?
Tom: Well the fortunes of the Aviation industry are very directly connected with the fortunes of the global economy so we are seeing a lot of improvement today, airlines are returning to profitability and they are ordering lots of new aircrafts, the manufacturers have burgeoning order books at the present time, new manufacturers are also coming onto the scene.Interviewer:So has the plummeting oil price made a big difference then?
Jamie: Yes, there has been a lot of discussions recently about whether the impact of low oil prices will affect the order books for new technology aircraft which are more fuel efficient, the general consensus however is that although there might be some short term impact in older generation aircraft which are less fuel efficient being used for longer, in general terms airlines plan on a 10 to15 year horizon and so short term volatility in the oil industry shouldn’t actually make any difference to the order books so this does mean that there is a lot of need for capital over the coming years and the story at the moment is all about the diversification of the sources of capital and this has been prompted particularly by the financial crisis.
Interviewer: So how big an impact did the financial crisis actually have?
Tom: I would describe it as a constructive shock. The effect of the financial crisis was many of the traditional providers withdrew from the market, that meant the gap had to be filled initially by the export credit agencies but we than found that new sources of capital were being accessed and new players coming into the market which we now see as a fairly permanent change. Would you agree with that?
Jamie: Yes certainly, we have seen the traditional banks return to the market and indeed some new banks enter the market but the capital markets remained an entrenched feature in the aircraft finance landscape. Another theme we are seeing is the operating lease market growing, it is predicted that by 2020 50% of the global aircraft fleet will be owned and leased to buy lessors.
Interviewer: So the operating lessors are really growing very rapidly, evolving very rapidly?
Jamie: Yes, that’s right.
Tom: We have the traditional players in the market, the financial crisis led to some restructuring in the traditional lessors, for instance, ILFC, AIG retreated and that portfolio went elsewhere, but we have lots of new players coming in and they are supported both by debt and by equity.
Interviewer: Tom, what kind of equity are you actually talking about?
Tom: For instance, pension funds, we are also seeing the traditional private equity companies involved in a big way and more recently sovereign wealth funds.
Interviewer: So in more detail, exactly how are they funding themselves?
Jamie: They are using the traditional source of debt to a certain extent but we are seeing lots of activity in the ABS market, that is the Asset Backed Securitisation Market and that is accessing the capital markets, in addition some lessors are now launching IPO’s we have recently seen Avalon do that and we know other lessors are doing that as well so again it’s the story of diversification in this market. Interviewer: So how do you see the lessor market going over the next five years?Tom: Well I think it will evolve quite considerably, we are seeing significant new development in Asia, both from the Chinese leasing companies and from other new players who are being set up in the Asian region, there are a couple of Chinese leasing companies who would rank amongst the top 10 at the present time but in the next five years I would think there would be 2 or 3 more who in terms of fleet value will be in that category.
Jamie: Picking up on that theme we are also seeing lessors co-operating with one another creating joint ventures and that could well lead to the consolidation in this market.
Interviewer: Jamie, Tom, thank you.