Air Transport World

Let my airplane go; the long arm of Eurocontrol has operating lessors seeing red and crying 'foul.'

The long arm of Eurocontrol has aircraft operating lessors seeing red and crying foul.'

Operating lessors increasingly are disturbed over Eurocontrol's practice of detaining their aircraft in order to extract payment of ATC charges incurred by lessees of those aircraft, even in situations where the aircraft no longer are operated by the airlines that incurred the charges. if not resolved, the situation threatens to undermine the ability of leasing companies to do business in Europe and especially in the U.K., where the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is acting as Eurocontrol's "enforcer" in aircraft detentions.

But beyond its effect on operating lessors, the practice-if continued-will have repercussions on any company that buys, sells or finances airplanes that are operated in Europe, according to Louis Gonda, executive vice president of International Lease Finance Corp. "It is with the lessors that this is manifesting itself right now ... but any airline buying an airplane from another airline faces similar problems," he told ATW.

Airlines "will pay the penalty"

Marc P. Desautels, president of Polaris Aircraft Leasing Corp., which has not suffered detention of any aircraft, says that the Eurocontrol actions represent "a challenge to the whole structure of aircraft financing" and predicts that ultimately, airlines operating in Europe will pay the penalty for Eurocontrol's actions through higher leasing costs and less access to financing.

Because historically, new entrants and smaller carriers are those most likely to run into financial problems, they will have the most difficulty in acquiring aircraft. …

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