Industry ‘Godfather’ Udvar-Hazy to Cede CEO’s Role at Air Lease

The self-proclaimed godfather of the aircraft-leasing industry, Steven Udvar-Hazy, is stepping down as chief executive officer of Air Lease Corp.

Udvar-Hazy, 70, will become executive chairman of the board on July 1, Air Lease said in a statement Friday. John Plueger, 61, the chief operating officer of the commercial-aircraft leasing company, will take over as CEO.

Steven Udvar-Hazy
Steven Udvar-Hazy
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The moves are part of a succession plan, the Los Angeles-based company said. Air Lease owns and manages 268 jet aircraft on lease to 88 airline customers worldwide and has 386 new jetliners on order from Airbus Group SE and Boeing Co. through 2023.

Air Lease “will benefit from both John’s expanded role, and no diminishment in Steve’s drive and commitment to building an ever bigger and stronger ALC,” lead director Robert Milton said in the statement.

Udvar-Hazy pioneered the plane-leasing business with the founding of International Lease Finance Corp. in 1973, which was acquired by American International Group Inc. in 1990. He retired from ILFC in 2010 and founded Air Lease with Plueger.

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