As demand for air travel grows, airlines are replacing ageing fleets with fuel efficient, technologically advanced planes. This firm was founded in 2010 by industry veteran Bob James, 53, to help airlines, aircraft lessors and financial institutions choose new engines and decide what to do with aircraft they were replacing.
Individual parts can be worth more than complete planes when recycled and used in the maintenance and repair of older fleets, so AerFin diversified into buying whole aircraft at the end of their life. This required capital investment, so in 2014 James sold an 80% stake in his business to American group CarVal Investors, which specialises in credit-intensive assets.
Since then, AerFin has spent more than £65m buying aircraft, engines and spares worldwide, which it recycles and sells or leases, helping international sales soar to £52.8m in 2016. It focuses on single-aisle Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and Embraer regional jets. The engines are managed at AerFin’s base in Caerphilly, and, if not serviceable, they are broken into components for sale as spares. The CarVal deal also enabled the company to diversify into airframes in 2015 with its acquisition of a Gatwick airframe components specialist.
Customers include maintenance providers and carriers such as Lufthansa, Thomson – for whom it supplies replacement wheels and brakes in Europe and the Caribbean – and Philippine Airlines. The Asia Pacific region is predicted to experience the strongest growth in demand for air travel over the next 20 years, and AerFin opened an office and warehouse distribution centre in Singapore last year to service local customers.
In its largest deal, the company bought 15 Embraer E170-LR aircraft from Saudi Arabia Airlines this year; more than half will be refurbished and find a new life in Asia or Africa. James is expanding the firm’s leasing business to give it a stronger ongoing revenue stream, against which it can leverage debt for further large purchases.
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