Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Limited (COMAC), Friedmann Pacific Asset Management Limited (FPAM) and China Aircraft Leasing Limited (CALC), entered into a tripartite cooperative framework agreement in relation to acquisition of ARJ21 Aircraft (subject to further negotiation to enter into a formal binding agreement) at the Farnborough International Air Show in United Kingdom. CALC will acquire 60 ARJ21-700 series aircraft (including a confirmed order of 30 ARJ21-700 aircraft and an option to purchase 30 ARJ21 series aircraft) from COMAC. The list price of the 60 ARJ21-700 series aircraft is approximately US$2.3 billion. This is the largest scale of single commercial order of ARJ21-700 aircraft for COMAC since its commercial operations. CALC will act as an aircraft lessor to provide value-added leasing solutions to an Indonesian-based airline, which FPAM intends to invest in, in building a pure- ARJ21 fleet.
The first batch of aircraft of this bulk purchase will be delivered in the next one to two years, and the remaining aircraft of the confirmed order will be delivered in succession in the next five years. As such, FPAM’s Indonesian airline is expected to become the first foreign airline which operates solely a fleet of ARJ21-700 aircraft, leading China’s first home-grown passenger jet to enter into the Southeast Asian market. In addition, COMAC will establish all-rounded services network in Indonesia, providing technical support, on-going maintenance and customer services for the ARJ21 Aircraft.
“Friedmann Pacific, CALC and COMAC are here today to sign a cooperative framework agreement with historical significance. It sets to create a positive and long-term impact on the aviation development in Asia Pacific and globally, and on the implementation of the nations’ Belt and Road Initiatives,” Mr. He Dongfeng, General Manager of COMAC, commented while giving a speech during the signing ceremony, “Friedmann Pacific has been focusing on the aviation investment over the years, and has built up a wealth of experience and solid strength in the areas of aircraft leasing, airport investment and operations, aircraft disassembly, and airline operations. CALC is a specialist of aircraft leasing possessing an elite team and global financing capabilities. The three parties share the same industry background, belief in win-win approach and long-term vision. I believe the cooperation will be crowned with success through our joint efforts.”
Mr. Mike Poon, Chairman of FPAM noted, “All of us at Friedmann Pacific are aviation-passionate, and with our innovators’ DNA, we seek to discover and develop opportunities that will shape the future of aviation in China and beyond. We are the first-mover in a number of segments in the aviation industry, and successfully built a globalised value chain of aircraft leasing, airport investment and operation, aircraft disassembly and airline operations. We are deeply honoured to participate in the historic mission of facilitating national aircraft to fly overseas. We would like to express our sincere gratitude towards COMAC, as they have total faith in our vision, at the same time recognising the experiences and unique advantages that we gained in the global aviation value chain. Combined with our efficient business model, it is believed that we could facilitate the success of national aircraft in the international market.”
During the past years, FPAM has been evaluating in how to enhance the global profile of China-made aircraft. Taken consideration into different market landscapes and business specifications, FPAM eventually decided on acquiring an airline in Indonesia, building a fleet of ARJ21 aircraft and focusing on its operation. The aim is to gain international recognitions through user experience, and to realise efficiency through the established operation plans of the Indonesian airline.
Mr. Poon continued, “The ARJ21-700 aircraft is a medium-to-short haul aircraft with the best operation efficiency in its type. Therefore, FPAM has chosen Indonesia, an island country, as the first overseas market to operate a fleet solely with ARJ21 aircraft. In the last year, the operation team and I have spent a lot of time in preparation work in Indonesia, getting ready for eventual national aircraft exports.”
The operations team of FPAM works very closely with all the counterparts in Indonesia and China, mobilises the most suitable resources available in the aviation sector on the ground, and conducts thoughtful deliberation on the marketing strategy of the ARJ21 Aircraft, with the key and ultimate objective to launch the commercial operations of ARJ21-700 aircraft in the international market.
Ms. Winnie Liu, Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer of CALC, commented, “This time we come to tentative agreement with COMAC over a large order of 60 ARJ21-700 series aircraft, which fully reflects our confidence in turning the China-made jetliners into a part of CALC’s quality aviation assets. Diversifying our fleet portfolio, meanwhile, would allow us to provide leasing solutions to airlines with more flexibility, further raising our ability in capturing the huge potential in growing regional aviation marketplace.” Using the Southeast Asian market as an example, after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations opens up their airspace, a lot of the international routes are now within a 2-hour range. Thus, the ARJ21 series provides another reliable option for the operators.
“CALC is in full support of the development of the national aircraft. In 2012, we have already ordered 20 C919 China-made aircraft from COMAC, and this agreement would further consolidate our bilateral strategic partnership. CALC has been actively pursuing overseas market opportunities, which is consistent with our strategy of sustainable development, as well as in line with the nations’ Belt and Road Initiative. Benefitting from the national policy of export financial support, combined with our existing diversified financing channels, we are able to acquire aviation assets with high potentials at relative low costs.”
CALC’s current portfolio consists of 70 current generation Airbus and Boeing aircraft with 103 airbus orders to be delivered and its fleet is expected to expand to 173 aircraft by 2022. Its leasing business has been expanded over Asia and to the major European markets in which customers include top tier airlines and regional operators. It is adopting a clear strategic plan, including active fleet expansion, aircraft models enrichment, coupled with establishing partnership with newly established airlines, exploring overseas financing channels and opening up innovative finance alternatives, in order to support its globalization strategy and sustainable development.