Late in the evening yesterday an intriguing note arrived.

Air Lease Corporation (ALC) announced the sale of 25 ATR aircraft in its fleet to Nordic Capital A/S (“NAC”). These ATR aircraft have served ALC well in meeting the demand from airline customers operating shorter sector lengths. As the business has matured, ALC has focused more on its mainline jet aircraft operations with these turboprop aircraft now accounting for less than 5% of the current fleet. NAC is a global leader specializing in meeting the needs of ATR turboprop operators and this transaction adds further scale to their business. ALC anticipates that a majority of aircraft transfers will occur during the first half of 2016.

“This is a great result for ALC shareholders. Our ATR fleet is a profitable platform which assisted ALC with its early development. The sale of this portfolio allows to deploy more capital to grow our main line jet fleet” said Steven F. Udvar-Házy, and Chief Executive of Air Lease Corporation.

“NAC is the world’s largest turboprop lessor and this fleet of ATR aircraft is a fantastic addition to our current portfolio of over 250 aircraft. ALC has built up an impressive of ATR customers and we are delighted to add them to our growing list of customers. We look forward to providing them with the same high level of customer care that ALC has provided to them in recent years. We understand ALC’s desire to maintain focus on mainline jets as NAC will also continue to maintain its focus on our core regional aircraft market” said Martin Møller, of Nordic Capital A/S.”

So ALC focuses on bigger jets going forward, which makes sense.  NAC increases it hold on being ATR’s biggest customer, and this helps NAC dominate the segment.

But what of ATR?  It now has more eggs in basket.  Moreover as fuel drop, some of its huge order book might start to soften.

It is interesting to note that fuel now airlines less, on a per gallon basis, than than milk.  Look at these two charts.

2015-12-24_9-02-34If the price of oil stays low for a long time, as some speculate (link 1, link 2), we might see more order book softening.  The move by ALC and NAC is an interesting chess move.

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