Virgin Atlantic A330 Nigel Howarth/AWST

Mid-life A330 Demand Showing Uptick, Lessors Report

Outside of newest models, overall widebody market remains soft.

Widebody market demand may be soft, but lessors faced with moving Airbus A330s on short notice say the venerable twin is proving easy to re-home. 

Recent demises of European carriers Air Berlin, Alitalia, and Monarch Airlines left AerCap with a small fleet of aircraft to re-lease, including 10 A330s. "We had those moved within a matter of a couple of weeks," AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly told analysts on a recent earnings call. All 10 are expected to be back in service in early 2018, following cabin reconfigurations, Kelly adds.

The A330s are exceptions, not the rule. "Of the small, in-production widebodies, [A330s are] by far the most liquid," Kelly explains. 

Aircastle CEO Michael Inglese echoes his counterpart's views.

"Although the overall widebody market is still soft, we've been seeing some renewed interest in tightening, particularly on A330s," he says.

One recent example from the Aircastle portfolio: a few aircraft that came out of Singapore Airlines were placed with TAP Air Portugal on short-term leases, "What we've seen in the last few months, is increased interest in those assets for when they are expected to come out of TAP, and we're engaged with more airlines in those discussions at this point than I was three months ago."

While the A330 has seen the most near-term upside, other models are showing signs of life. Demand for the A350 and 787 remain strong as operators snap up the newest-generation twins as quickly as the OEMs can deliver them.

Inglese also pointed to the Boeing 777, particularly the -300ER, as an "excellent aircraft" that is usually relatively liquid.

"Nevertheless," he adds, "the widebody market is challenging."

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