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Rising interest rates give aircraft lessors heartburn

Despite a roaring travel recovery, lessors face unique challenges moving their aircraft.

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Release Date
January 25, 2023
Rising interest rates give aircraft lessors heartburn
For one week in January, Dublin, Ireland, becomes the quiet center of global aviation — an airshow without airplanes. Aircraft lessors, investors, airlines, and everyone in between descend on the city for a week of discussing the business of aircraft.

The ability to find a coffee shop or pub without stumbling into a meeting discussing buying, selling, trading, or leasing aircraft is rare. An annual event prior to the pandemic, 2023 marks the return of aviation to Dublin in January, generating the entirety of the country’s winter economy — if local cab driver lore is to be believed.

Related: Widebodies finally join the global airline recovery

The mood is optimistic as news of China reopening, airline profits, and strong forward bookings offer a sense of relief for those expecting a terrible winter. Peak summer travel is set to outpace capacity once again, and the supply chain challenges to producing new aircraft have only bolstered those already built.

Yet, a layer of concern underlies the aviation finance community as it grapples with a new problem: higher interest rates. Since COVID’s arrival in 2020, the leasing and financing community has struggled with a lack of demand for their aircraft – but that was when money was inexpensive. That dynamic flipped in 2022. Today, the industry faces robust demand – but capital is no longer cheap.

Related: Trouble is brewing in the global economy – just don’t tell the airlines

With the robust return of travelers inevitably comes the demand for aircraft and their need for financing. Figuring that out just became more costly. Investing in aircraft in 2023 may no longer deliver out-sized returns for investors now with other options. In this latest TAC Analysis, we look past the overwhelming sense of optimism that has finally descended upon the aviation finance community and look to the challenges it still faces. 

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