Heli-Expo 2019: LCI seeks growth in Asia – Rotorhub

26 February 2019

Lease Corporation International (LCI) is targeting strong growth in Asia-Pacific, with the lessor expecting up to half of its fleet to be active in the region in the coming years.

Speaking to Shephard, ahead of HAI Heli-Expo 2019, LCI's CEO, Michael Platt said Asia-Pacific already accounts for more than 40% of the company’s fleet, ‘and given the expected growth and replacement needs, I can see that growing to 50% over time’.

He described China in particular as a hugely exciting market. LCI has seen some recent success in the country, securing a deal with Shanghai Kingwing Aviation in summer 2018 to lease three new AW139 platforms to the operator for EMS work.

Beyond EMS, LCI is seeing increased interest from China’s offshore oil and gas operators, who are upgrading their domestic fleets and expanding their international presence, Platt said.

He expects Australia and New Zealand to continue upgrading their EMS fleets, which are already the largest in the region, while he also highlighted recent EMS contracts awarded by South Korea and Taiwan.

Oil and gas remains a major sector in the region as a whole, he added, ‘especially Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia, where we have seen a recent uptick in contracts and tenders, with a preference from operators for new-generation helicopters’.

The energy sector globally has been through an incredibly difficult time since the collapse of oil prices in 2014, Platt said. Moving into the Q2 2019, demand for oil is at an all-time high, though oil companies are still pursuing the lowest possible costs.

LCI has always sought to diversify its fleet away from a reliance on oil and gas, Platt added: over half the company’s fleet is on long-term EMS contracts, while the offshore energy domain makes up a maximum of 25% of its portfolio.
Platt highlighted a number of other sectors with strong potential in the medium term, notably wind power; while this is still small, it is likely to triple in size by 2025. Turbine efficiencies are improving, he added, making wind energy more attractive on a cost-per-unit basis.

The company has AW139 and AW169 platforms supporting offshore wind farms in Europe, and is monitoring developments in markets like Taiwan.

He also pointed to markets like the transfer of maritime pilots, as well as SAR, which is showing more potential due to the privatisation of the work in countries like the UK. Finally, Platt said LCI sees a growing demand for asset management services, where it conducts work on behalf of other helicopter investors.

Heli-Expo is an opportunity for LCI to speak with representatives from companies across its value chain, both customers and suppliers, Platt said.

‘At these events, it is important not to dwell on what has gone wrong over the last few years, but to talk about how we learn from our collective experiences, how we make things better and sustainable, and how we can all work together to create version 2.0 of the helicopter leasing industry that will be healthy and profitable for years to come.’

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