Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

World’s Biggest Jetliner -- Available for Rent, 40% Discount

Updated on
  • Lessor aims to spur market for A380s returned by Singapore Air
  • Doric says second-tier carriers, charter operators interested

Used Airbus Group SE A380 superjumbos are being offered at a 40 percent discount to the $2 million-plus monthly rental rate for a new plane as leasing firm Doric seeks to spur demand for the second-hand jets.

Doric is in talks with a number of potential operators for a tranche of double-deckers that could be returned by Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Dubai-based Emirates from 2017 following the completion of 10-year leases, Sibylle Paehler, the lessor’s managing director, said in an interview.

Interested parties span second-tier airlines that haven’t yet flown the A380 through charter carriers and companies that specialize in so-called wet-lease services, in which jets are provided for a limited term complete with crews.

“Each has a different business model, so it’s hard to make precise forecasts on the most-likely future use,” Paehler said, adding that the main stumbling block is that “nobody wants to be first” in announcing a deal for a 550-seat plane whose popularity as a second-hand transport has yet to be demonstrated.

Shorter Leases

Doric, which owns the first five A380s that Singapore Air is entitled to return in conjunction with Dr. Peters Fund KG of Germany, is offering the jetliners as a whole or in bundles of two and three, since a single example wouldn’t be enough to serve the average long-distance route.

Leases for as little as five years -- half the usual lease term -- could be accepted in order to maximize interest, Paehler said, adding that some carriers might want A380s only at certain times of the year such as the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, and that Doric is looking at ways to accommodate those needs.

While some carriers have inquired about buying the planes, Doric, which has its main offices in Offenbach, Germany, reckons the assets would offer a bigger return if it retains ownership, the executive said. A 10-year-old superjumbo might sell for $100 million, compared with a $428 million list price for a current example, though buyers of new jets can negotiate significant discounts.

Dr. Peters owns the first A380 that may become available. The asset manager paid $197.3 million for the plane in 2007 -- versus a list price of $304 million to $314 million -- as part of a 10-year sale-and-leaseback deal involving Singapore Air, which rented the jet for $1.71 million a month, according to an investor prospectus. The carrier can extend the lease for two years at the same rate, the document says.

Airbus has suggested the A380 might have a second life plying six-to-eight-hour routes for low-cost Asian airlines. The manufacturer is continuing to seek fresh sales avenues after order momentum slowed in recent years, something that could complicate its participation in the marketing of used aircraft.

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