Air Transport World

GPA ready for airline rush to leasing. (GPA Group expansion)

GPA ready for airline rush to leasing

There is so much room for expansion in the burgeoning aircraft leasing game that GPA figures it has the luxury of saying nice things about its fiercest competition, International Lease Finance Corp. Well, maybe not nice, but not nasty, either.

Perhaps the company can afford to be magnanimous, as it flexed its fiscal muscles late last month to the tune of $2.75 billion. Suddenly its commitment for Boeing 737s jumped from 19, plus 14 options--all 737-300s--to 100 firm orders, including at least 30 737-400s powered by the new CFM56-3C, producing 23,500 lbs. thrust, GPA said. The massive order also included an additional 15 McDonnell Douglas MD-83s, plus 10 options, for the Irish Aerospace partnership with McDonnell Douglas. GPA now owns or has ordered 187 aircraft. All MD-83s will be delivered by 1989; all 737s by 1991.

GPA is not a bit shy about talking over the future, either. ATW was told that GPA fully intends to be a launching customer for Boeing's 7J7 propfan project. The company is leaving the question of technical risk to Boeing, trusting on the basis of a substantial track record that Boeing will not build it if it is risky.

Further, the company is in talks with Airbus and Fokker concerning substantial A320 and Fokker 100 orders.

Incredible demand

GPA's game plan is to own 300 airplanes on lease in five years' time. Airline demand for aircraft leases will be so great, GPA reckons, that the aircraft it will have on operating leases in 1991 will account for only 20% of the operating lease market. GPA Group, which occasionally still uses the formally retired name Guiness Peat Aviation, is a creation of modern aircraft acquisition patterns. Worth about $50,000 when launched 11 years ago, the company's stock now is valued at about $250 million. Earlier this year GPA sold $125 million worth of convertible preferred shares, capitalizing the firm for the next few years growth plans and avoiding once again a public floatation of GPA. …

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