Dubai Aerospace to consider jet order after AWAS deal closes

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Government-controlled Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) will consider ordering more than 20 new aircraft after it acquires Dublin-based lessor AWAS, a deal it expects to close in the “early part of the third quarter,” its chief executive said.

DAE, the aircraft leasing and maintenance company controlled by the government of Dubai, previously said the deal, announced in April, would finalize sometime in the third quarter. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

“I think it is fair to say after the close we will seriously consider placing a large order so that we have proper line of sight on ... growth for our company for the next several years,” DAE CEO Firoz Tarapore told Reuters.

The order would be “bigger than” the 23 new Airbus aircraft AWAS has on order, he said.

The AWAS acquisition would more than double DAE’s fleet from 131 owned, managed and committed aircraft to 394 worth over $14 billion by the end of 2018. That will make DAE one of the world’s top aircraft lessors behind the likes of General Electric (GE.N) and AerCap (AER.N).

DAE is interested in buying narrow and wide-body jets from Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing (BA.N), and turboprop aircraft from ATR which is co-owned by Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo LDOF.PA with deliveries to start from late 2019 - subject to availability.

Tarapore said the firm would look at the Airbus A320neo and A350-900, Boeing’s 737 MAX, 787-9 and 777 freighter, and ATR’s 72-600.

“Narrow-bodies of course are the first preference but we believe that there are a few wide-body types that are quite appropriate to have on a leasing company books,” he said.

The ATR 72-600 fleet could grow to the “top end” of the 60-to-100 spectrum, he added. DAE currently has 57 owned and committed ATR 72-600s.

DAE believes the AWAS acquisition will give it the benefits of scale - it will have more than 110 airline customers spread across 55 countries.

Reuters reported on Monday that DAE plans to raise up to $2 billion in July with the proceeds to be used towards financing the AWAS acquisition.

It is acquiring AWAS from private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners [TERA.UL] and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).