The China Aircraft Leasing (CALC) fleet is dominated by Airbus aircraft, but this week's order for 50 Boeing 737 Max looks set to shake that up.
Airfinance Journal’s Fleet Tracker indicates that CALC has just five Boeing units in a fleet of 87 aircraft. The remaining 82 are manufactured by Airbus.
All of CALC’s five Boeing aircraft are leased to one operator, Shandong Airlines, under a sale-and-leaseback deal.
Yesterday, however, CALC announced an order for 50 737 Max aircraft, its first direct purchase from Boeing. Later that day CALC also announced the purchase of two 737-900ERs from Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation.
A source who has worked with CALC on deals tells Airfinance Journal that the lessor has been “a bit of a poster child for Airbus and the Neo”.
“Boeing would be itching to get someone like CALC as a client,” he says.
“Because CALC have got 100 A320neos on order, presumably they have got some motivation to diversify. Also, they have been able to get good slots, with deliveries before 2023. It’s quite hard to get 737 Max slots at the moment – they are in pretty hot demand.”
The person also says the order is in line with CALC’s strategy to internationalise its lessee base.
“When we talked to them, they were saying they wanted to do mostly international lessees for the next five years and get it [the ratio of Chinese to non-Chinese lessees] to 50/50,” he says.
CALC has previously stated in that it is working towards a balanced portfolio of Chinese and non-Chinese clients by 2020.
“If they want to do that, they need to have more product coverage. If they have just got the A320s, they are not going to be able to get the same interest from airlines around the world than if they have got both the A320 and 737 product coverage,” the source says.
As of 16 June 2017, Fleet Tracker shows that CALC leases 68 aircraft to 13 mainland Chinese carriers, and four aircraft to one Macau-based carrier.
CALC leases to Air China (four A330-200s), Chengdu Airlines (10 A320s), China Eastern (13 A320s), China Southern (five A321s and four A320s), China West Air (two A320s), Juneyao Airlines (one A320), Longjiang Air (two A321s), Lucky Air (two A320s), Qingdao Airlines (five A320s), Shandong Airlines (five 737-800s), Shenzhen Airlines (four A320s), Sichuan Airlines (eight A320s, one A321 and one A319), and Spring Airlines (one A320).
It also leases to Air Macau (four A321s), the flag carrier of Macau, which has been part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the 1999 transfer of sovereignty from Portugal, but is governed separately as a special administrative region (SAR).
Above: Distribution of CALC's aircraft in Asia-Pacific. PRC-dominated, but making in-roads into Southeast Asia and India. Source: Fleet Tracker
Outside China – and especially outside the Asia-Pacific region – CALC’s lessee coverage is more limited. Within Asia-Pacific, meanwhile, CALC leases one A320 to AirAsia, one A320 to Thai AirAsia, five A320s to Air India and four A320s to Jetstar Pacific – a total of 11 aircraft.
In the rest of the world, CALC leases two A321s to Russian carrier Nordwind and two A320s to Turkish carrier Pegasus Airlines – a total of four aircraft.
Therefore, 83% of CALC's fleet is leased to Chinese carriers and just under 5% is leased outside Asia-Pacific.
While that should change, CALC's 737 Max order does continue the lessor's preference for narrowbody aircraft. The company has just four widebodies – the four A330s on lease to Air China – in its fleet.