Ireland is a world leader in aviation leasing, with the business model growing steadily ever since the 1970s, when Tony Ryan of Ryanair fame founded GPA (or Guinness Peat Aviation) operating out of Shannon Airport near Limerick.
What Ryan started turned into a huge business phenomenon allowing second-tier airlines entry into an industry which has prohibitively high start-up costs.
According to Aircraft Leasing Ireland (ALI), a representative body for the sector, the industry now employs around 5,000 both within the industry and in support businesses and contribute €550m a year to the Irish economy.
Ireland aviation finance
Approximately 60% of the world’s aircraft are managed from Ireland, according to an Irish Times report in January.
Danny McCoy, chief executive of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, said: “Over several decades, Ireland has developed as an internationally recognised global leader in aircraft leasing due in no small part to the availability of a locally-based world-class talent pool.”
A favourable tax environment has also been beneficial to the industry, making Ireland a good base for the industry.
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In January 2019 the Irish Times was reporting on the seemingly unstoppable rise of the industry, with orders for over 17,000 new aircraft over the next decade.
A little over a year later, and with a major pandemic crippling the global aviation sector, it remains to be seen whether aviation leasing will continue to soar as predicted, for example, Dublin-based Avolon cancelled an order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX planes in April.
In the meantime the industry has been trying to stay positive, doing its bit to help with the current crisis, raising €1m for Covid-19 initiatives in April, according to the ALI.
The support includes funding towards PPE for healthcare workers and for three charter flights all transporting
PPE from China and elsewhere, all facilitated by aircraft leasing companies.
There are more than 50 aviation leasing companies operating out of Ireland which is supported by aircraft services and mantainance firms.