BAE invests in asset management business as recession bites

By Niall O'Keeffe

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has appointed eight executives to a new business development team within its asset management unit, in a bid to take advantage of opportunities created by the global downturn.

The team will be split between the company's offices at Hatfield and Farnborough in the UK and Herndon, Virginia in the USA. It will be headed by Hamish Davidson, who will specialise in lease advisory business, supported by Tamara Lumley and Jonathan Pierpoint. Remarketing of non-BAE aircraft will be handled by Paul Tattersall and Stewart Cordner, while vice-president of sales and marketing Steve Doughty assumes responsibility for winning mandates for BAE aircraft. Neil Berry has been named vice-president of lease management services and Peggy Hanley as manager of business operations.

Doughty says that investment in the team is aimed at leveraging BAE's "deal-making experience", adding that the current climate presents "better opportunities" for remarketing than the "overheated market of the last few years".

He reveals that in 2008 the asset management unit placed 75 aircraft via new leases, lease extensions and sales. The company is "comfortable" with this result, he says. Within the company's support business, 17 aircraft were added to the "rate per flight hour" programmes, while contracts covering 50 aircraft were extended.

The figure of 75 placed aircraft includes newly announced deals involving an ATP Freighter leased to West Air Europe Group, an RJ100 Avro Business Jet sold to Amiri Flight of Abu Dhabi, and BAe 146-200s sold to Australia-based National Jet Systems (two units), New Zealand-based Air National (two) and Minden Air (one).

Based in Nevada, Minden Air intends to adapt its BAe 146-200 for use as an air tanker and aerial waterbomber. It is designing its own conversion programme, and hopes to have the aircraft ready for the 2010 fire season.

The asset management team at BAE Systems is remarketing six Boeing MD-83s on behalf of Jets MD Lease, one Jetstream 41 on behalf of Eastern Airways and a BAe 146QT on behalf of West Air Sweden. Further remarketing opportunities could follow "disappointing, but inevitable" decisions by carriers such as BA CityFlyer to retire their Avro RJs, with the business jet variant expected to build on successes in the Middle East. Trends in BAe 146 values, meanwhile, make the type more likely to be traded than leased, according to the manufacturer.

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft's lease portfolio comprises 82 Avro RJs (out of a total of 164 still extant), 50 BAe 146s (of 187 extant), 28 ATPs (of 55 extant) and 31 Jetstreams (of 374 extant). On a third-party basis it manages around 50 non-BAE aircraft, around half of which are Airbus A320s.

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