Lessors Brush Up On Ground Expertise

Lessors such as Avolon saw that following a lockdown-induced lull, leasing contraints altered. 

Credit: Avolon

Narrowbody leases have been in high demand since air transport markets started opening up again and due to aircraft manufacturers' production challenges.

However, although many lessors had built up inventories of inactive aircraft during the pandemic, pushing them out to new customers has proved challenging.

Felipe Campos, chief technical officer at Avolon, remarks that after a dead period for aircraft marketing during global lockdowns, “the constraints shifted…to balancing MRO and engineering workloads to reactivate and modify aircraft as quickly as possible.”

In an interview with Inside MRO, he adds: “OEMs especially were caught off guard. They had let go of a significant amount of their engineering staff who typically support transition modifications. This trend remains with the OEMs to this day—they cannot support lessors at the pace required to move aircraft, which, in turn, is extending time on the ground and time between leases,” says Campos.

Happily, lessors are better prepared now for longer periods between leases, having been forced to improve their aircraft storage acumen during the pandemic.

“The volume of assets that required storage became unprecedented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the only things that the technical teams across all lessors—and indeed MROs and storage facilities" had in common was not being prepared for managing the scale of the required storage, says Campos.

"We quickly had to become extremely diligent and knowledgeable with proper storage requirements, or else face the expensive consequences of unscheduled and extended shop visit costs,” he adds.

Avolon’s response, a few months after lockdowns began, was to set up a specific team to manage all on-ground aircraft. 

“The team not only looked at better storage oversight, but also completed exhaustive studies on the specs of our assets so we could complete some proactive work while in storage to ensure our assets could be at the top of the list when onward leasing opportunities arose,” says Campos.

For a thorough look at how lessors managed returned aircraft through the pandemic and beyond, see the next issue of Inside MRO.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.