GE unit said to order 25 Airbus jets as industry prepares to gather in Dubai

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The order list of leasing giant GECAS includes 12 Airbus A330neo aircraft. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2019

GE unit said to order 25 Airbus jets as industry prepares to gather in Dubai

  • The order includes 12 Airbus A330neo jets

PARIS: Leasing giant GECAS, the aircraft leasing subsidiary of General Electric, has ordered 25 Airbus aircraft including a rare purchase of jets powered by GE’s rival engine maker Rolls-Royce, two people familiar with the matter said.

The order includes 12 Airbus A330neo jets, for which Rolls-Royce is the sole engine supplier, and 13 A321XLR long-distance narrow-body jets. It was included in a new Airbus order tally but the name of the buyer was not immediately disclosed. Airbus and GE  did not comment.

If confirmed, the decision by the world’s second largest aircraft leasing company to invest in the A330neo would be a key endorsement for the A330neo program which has been clawing its way back from a period of weak sales and some cancelations.

GECAS has traditionally
prioritized aircraft powered by engines made by its parent company General Electric.

Planemakers are gearing up for the Dubai Airshow from Nov. 17 which could feature confirmation of demand from leasing companies including GECAS, industry sources said. 

Decisions to invest in rival technology highlight competition to diversify portfolios in the leasing industry, even though GE is perceived as more closely aligned in the wide-body market with Airbus rival Boeing.

The A330neo is a 250-300 seat upgrade of Airbus’s most-sold wide-body aircraft, the A330, which is offered alongside the slightly larger Airbus A350 family. Both aircraft are exclusively powered by engines from Rolls-Royce.

In 2015, GECAS invested in the first A350 by buying the aircraft immediately after its delivery to Qatar Airways and then renting it back to the airline in a sale-and-leaseback deal.

But it remains rare for the GE subsidiary to buy Rolls-Royce-powered aircraft directly from
the manufacturer.

Rolls and GE compete fiercely for engine sales and the A330neo airplane has in turn faced intense competition from the newer Boeing 787, which offers both GE and Rolls-Royce engines.

GECAS is widely seen as a candidate for potential sale as GE overhauls its balance sheet through disposals. It has said it aims to invest in aircraft to keep down the average age of its portfolio to 5.5 years from 6.8 years by 2024.

In a statement with its monthly order update on Thursday, Airbus said an “unidentified customer ordered 13 A321XLRs in a transaction that also included 12 A330-900 highly efficient wide-bodies.”

It is common for aircraft deals to be posted on an anonymous basis before the buyer goes public, often using the publicity surrounding air shows.


IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

Updated 20 February 2020

IMF experts visit Lebanon amid worsening economic crisis

  • IMF team will provide broad technical advice
  • Lebanon has not requested IMF financial assistance

BEIRUT: A team of IMF experts met Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday at the start of a visit to provide Lebanon with advice on tackling a deepening financial and economic crisis, an official Lebanese source said.

The IMF has said the team will visit until Feb. 23 and provide broad technical advice. Lebanon has not requested financial assistance from the Fund.

The long-brewing economic crisis spiraled last year as capital flows into the country slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite over decades of corruption and bad governance.

Diab’s government, which took office last month, must decide what to do about upcoming debt payments, notably a $1.2 billion dollar-denominated sovereign bond due on March 9.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun meanwhile said on Thursday measures would be taken to hold to account all those who contributed to Lebanon’s financial crisis through illegal actions be they transfers abroad, manipulation of Eurobonds or other acts.

“There is information that we are still in need of with regards to the banking situation. There are measures that we will take to hold to account all who participated in bringing the crisis to where it is,” Aoun said, according to his Twitter account.

Opinion

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One of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, said on Wednesday that debt restructuring was the best solution for looming maturities.

Lebanon will on Friday review proposals from firms bidding to give it financial and legal advice on its options, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The government aims to take a quick decision on who to appoint, the source said.

So far, firms bidding to be Lebanon’s legal adviser are Dechert, Cleary Gottlieb, and White and Case, the source said.

Lebanon has issued requests for proposals to seven firms to provide it with financial advice.

The government on Wednesday formed a committee tasked with preparing an economic recovery plan that includes ministers, government officials, a central bank representative and economists, according to a copy of a decree seen by Reuters.