Five Questions to LCI’s Jaspal Jandu

RotorHub talks to Jaspal Jandu, CEO of leading aircraft lessor LCI, about the impact of the pandemic and other issues affecting the commercial helicopter market.

What’s your view of the current helicopter market within Europe? While the pandemic has obviously had a major impact on the fixed-wing sector, has the rotary-wing industry come through it relatively unscathed so far?

The helicopter market in Europe has remained highly active throughout the COVID-19 period and has been largely unaffected by the pandemic.

Whilst there were some initial changes in operating procedures to ensure COVID safety, levels of demand and aircraft utilisation in the operating sectors that LCI serves have remained robust, particularly in emergency medical services (EMS).

The market in Europe is now recovering to pre-pandemic levels.

Looking ahead, what sectors of the market do you believe will be the most dominant in the next five years and see the greatest increase in demand for helicopters?

The rapid development of offshore wind energy will lead to fast growth in this sector in the coming years, with the average annual offshore wind capacity expected to reach 80 GW by 2030 – a 1,500% increase compared to 2020.

The latest generation helicopters, such as those operated by LCI, are faster, emit less CO2 per passenger mile and offer greater availability to the end-user than crew transfer vessels, and research (from Air and Sea Analytics) suggests that there will be a need for 100 more helicopters over the next 10 years.

Demand for helicopter-based emergency medical services will also continue to grow strongly, with the time-saving benefits of these critical missions a crucial factor.

LCI supports EMS operations across the globe and is continuing to expand in this sector, with our first UK lease placement occurring earlier in 2021, involving the delivery of two new Leonardo AW109SPs to Sloane Helicopters. These aircraft are being flown on EMS operations for The Air Ambulance Service, which is the local air ambulance provider for Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland.

“For the foreseeable future, we believe there will be strong demand for all offshore operations.”

There has been a great deal of debate regarding the future of offshore helicopter support in light of the expected long-term decline of the oil and gas sector. How do you assess the situation?

The oil and gas sector remains a key user of helicopter operations, and that use is likely to increase as energy demand returns post-pandemic. The offshore wind sector is also growing strongly.

In the long term, there may well be some rebalancing between the various energy types but, for the foreseeable future, we believe there will be strong demand for all offshore operations.

As the fixed-wing commercial aviation sector makes strides towards using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), how do you think the helicopter industry is progressing in terms of sustainability?

Sustainable aviation fuel will form a part of aviation operations in the future, and the helicopter industry is evolving quickly to make this a reality. Already, all Airbus helicopters are certified to run on 50% SAF.

We are working closely with other manufacturers to encourage rapid and meaningful advances towards the use of SAF, as well as other efficiencies that will help ensure even more sustainable helicopter operations.

Has the helicopter leasing market changed since the pandemic began? Has the level of activity been affected, and has LCI had to support any existing clients that have struggled due to its impact?

The mission-critical nature of many helicopter operations has ensured that the market has remained very active during COVID-19. We have worked with clients throughout the pandemic to support their operations and, in some cases, to introduce further flexibility into their lease agreements.

LCI has continued to grow over the last two years and has raised over US$1 billion in helicopter capital since 2019. We launched a $230 million helicopter leasing joint venture with Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company in 2020 and expanded that this year with $120 million growth – taking its fleet size from 19 to 31 aircraft – so clearly the transactional appetite is there.

To view the article in RotorHub, click here

The Long-Haul – European Rotors 2021

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

LCI specialises in leasing helicopter and commercial aircraft with a broad spread of types leased to operators around the globe. Its Vice-President of Marketing, Christopher Grainger, tells EUROPEAN ROTORS that while times have been tough for everybody, the helicopter market has bounced back strongly from early 2020 and is entering a period of growth, particularly in the top-performing sectors like EMS, SAR and wind farms.

“I think the industry has recovered, particularly in Europe, which is a very important market, although not all segments are necessarily doing as well,” he says. “All in all, we are seeing a significant level of activity, and more importantly, we’re seeing growth opportunities across the place.”

To make sure it is a part of that growth, LCI has raised more than US$1 billion in capital since 2109, which is clearly significant in a time when Grainger says banks and financiers have been turning their backs on aviation. “It’s no secret that we’re talking to several operators who tell us that they have difficulties financing their helicopters, so let’s not dream helicopters are in a different world,” he says. “And the operators we are talking to now are going for new technology, which is very exciting. And I think it’s driving the markets in the right direction to bring more deals in the future.”

Two things that make helicopters an attractive investment are their long operating lives and the types of missions and customers that operator’s contract with to provide services. The long lifecycles come from being non-pressurised aircraft, and Grainger points to aircraft such as Pumas and S-61s that have transitioned into new roles as examples. “

When you see aircraft more than 50 years old still being used, not necessarily for their original offshore applications but in utility work or firefighting, that’s pretty amazing,” he adds. “The second reason is more linked to the end-users, and in some European countries, an EMS contract can be for terms beyond 10 years, which is unique.

Putting the sanctity of contracts to one side, lessors still need to be aware that contracts can be terminated, as seen in the oil and gas sector, and he says it’s vital they know their operator and what they are getting into.

“Of course, you have to be selective, so when we’re approached with an opportunity, we like digging a bit further into the project to understand who’s the end-user and what’s the underlying contract,” he explains. “And all that together gives us a lot of security to the contract.”

Leasing aircraft to operators with firm contracts in hand seems to be a more effective strategy than selecting a popular aircraft type and adding that to a lessor’s fleet. Light to medium twin-engine aircraft form the backbone of LCI’s fleet, including Leonardo AW139/169, Airbus H135/145 and the super-medium H175 and AW189.

“We have a very positive long-term view of the super-medium, which more and more are competing with the heavier types,” he says.“We have a few heavies, so we’re not excluding anything, but the 139 and 169 are the core of our fleet at the moment.”

The commercial helicopter market leans heavily towards owned aircraft. Industry consultant IBA estimates less than 10% of the total commercial turbine fleet of nearly 24,000 aircraft is leased, which Grainger sees as a great opportunity for LCI.

“There’s huge potential, but it needs a very thorough and strict analysis project-perproject and operator-per-operator, so we take a meticulous approach,” he adds. “We don’t exclude anything in principle, but we certainly can’t and don’t take everything.”

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LCI acquires Nova Capital Aviation – Airline Economics

Fixed-wing and helicopter leasing company LCI finalised an agreement in December to acquire Nova Capital Aviation (Ireland) Limited, the twinengine rotary and fixed-wing aircraft lease division of the Nova Capital Group. The Nova Capital Group has retained single-engine operations.

The acquisition will result in a substantial expansion of LCI’s leasing platform to over 140 twin-engine rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. It will also take the proportion of aircraft deployed on emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue (SAR), off-shore wind and utility missions, to over 80% of the entire leasing platform.

“The Nova brand is highly regarded, and is a major presence in the missioncritical EMS market which perfectly complements our own,” said Crispin Maunder, Executive Chairman of LCI. “Our agreement reflects the current trend towards industry consolidation, and is testament to the robust leasing platform we have built. It expands our customer base, introduces new aircraft types to our fleet, and cements LCI’s long-term commitment to growth.”

Last year, Nova Capital further expanded its fleet with the addition of eight factory new twin-engine EMS helicopters valued at over US$90 million, reaching half-a-billion total fleet value at 2021 year-end. Nova Capital stated that it will now focus on the development of its single-engine helicopter, light utility fixed-wing aircraft, and other advanced air mobility operations, in partnership with LCI.

“Over 20 years, we have developed a marketleading leasing operation that specialises in providing asset financing solutions to helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft operators, primarily in onshore mission critical services,” said Olivier Piot, Founder and CEO of Nova Capital. “We are delighted to conclude this agreement with such a complementary business as LCI. Their proven leasing platform, extensive experience in both the fixed-wing and rotary-wing leasing markets, and immersion in mission critical helicopter operations, make them a natural choice.”

To view the article in Airline Economics, click here

LCI delivers two AW139s to Heligo – Vertical

LCI, a leading aviation leasing company, has placed two Leonardo AW139 helicopters on long-term operating leases with its newest customer, Heligo Charters Pvt. Ltd.

The state-of-the-art aircraft were recently delivered to Heligo’s base at Juhu Airport in Mumbai, from where they will provide crew transfer services for India’s largest energy company, ONGC.

Nigel Leishman, executive vice president and global head of marketing at LCI, said, “Heligo is one of India’s foremost providers of onshore and offshore helicopter services, and we are delighted to support their operations.

“India and the wider Asia-Pacific region is a diverse and fast-growing market for helicopter leasing which today accounts for around a third of our global aircraft placements. We see huge potential for further long-term growth in the region across a range of operating sectors.”

Captain Padmanabhan, CEO at Heligo, said, “LCI’s expert team went above and beyond to meet our requirements swiftly and effectively, providing invaluable technical assistance. We’re looking forward to a productive, long-term partnership.” 

LCI’s rotorcraft fleet is focused on the latest technology medium and super medium helicopters manufactured by leading helicopter OEMs including Leonardo, Airbus Helicopters and Sikorsky. These are in operation across four continents in multiple sectors including emergency medical services, offshore wind, search and rescue, maritime pilot transfer and energy sector transportation.

The lessor has consistently grown in scale and value as it has diversified over time. LCI’s highly experienced management team has built strong relationships with manufacturers, customers and leading financial institutions, and has undertaken in excess of US$8 billion of transactions in the fixed-wing and helicopter markets since LCI’s inception in 2004.

To view the article in Vertical, click here

Libra Group acquires KKR’s stake in LCI – RotorHub

Aviation leasing specialist LCI has announced that its parent company, the Libra Group, has acquired the minority interest in LCI Helicopters held by global investment firm KKR.

Jaspal Jandu, CEO of LCI, said: “We would like to thank the KKR team for their exemplary support these last seven years, helping LCI grow across sectors including offshore wind power and search and rescue.

“We are equally delighted that the Libra Group has returned to principal ownership. It has always been a valued and supportive parent given its experience in building asset-intensive transportation businesses, particularly in the aviation space.”

LCI has undertaken in excess of US$8 billion of transactions in the fixed-wing and helicopter markets since it was founded in 2004. Its rotorcraft fleet comprises modern medium and super-medium helicopters manufactured by OEMs such as Leonardo, Airbus Helicopters and Sikorsky. These aircraft are in operation across four continents in a variety of sectors, including emergency medical services, search and rescue, offshore energy and maritime pilot transfer.

George Logothetis, chairman and CEO of the Libra Group, noted: “We are proud of what LCI has achieved and look forward to being fully invested in LCI’s future as the global market for helicopter deployment looks set to increase and fixed-wing aviation is on the road to recovery.”

To view the article in RotorHub, click here

LCI Returns to Fixed Wing Leasing Market with Airbus A330 Acquisition – Monitor Daily

LCI, an aviation leasing company, re-entered the fixed wing market with the acquisition of an Airbus A330-300 commercial aircraft.

This latest investment program builds upon LCI’s 17-year track record in the fixed wing market, during which it carried out more than 120 passenger and freighter aircraft transactions worth more than $7 billion.

LCI’s fixed wing strategy of undertaking aircraft investments timed with market cycles includes its $1 billion fleet divestment in 2007 and its $4.8 billion fleet investment and divestment cycles running from 2008 to 2020.

Deal origination, technical management and ongoing lease management will all be handled in-house via LCI’s leasing, management and investment platform.

The 2013-built Airbus aircraft is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines. It was acquired by a joint venture between LCI and Marathon Asset Management.

“LCI prides itself on being a prime mover in aviation leasing as demonstrated by strategic investments in widebody aircraft, freighters and helicopters, and this acquisition marks the latest chapter in that strategy,” Michael Platt, vice chairman of LCI, said. “The A330-300 is a proven and popular aircraft with airlines across the globe and a natural choice as the long-haul market recovers.

“We are delighted to be working with the Marathon Asset Management on this acquisition. Our combined aviation and investment expertise will make this a strong and successful partnership.”

“As the airline industry continues to build back from the pandemic, we believe the range of compelling aircraft investment opportunities is growing quickly,” Joe Thorstenson, managing director of aircraft leasing at Marathon Asset Management, said. “We are delighted to be partnering with such an experienced lessor as LCI.”

To view the article in Monitor Daily, click here

Nigel Leishman – Cranfield University Alumni Matters Podcast

In this episode of Cranfield University’s Aviation alumni portraits, Maxime Debry interviews fellow Cranfield alumnus Nigel Leishman (MSc Air Transport 1992), Executive Vice President & Global Head of Marketing at LCI. 

Nigel joined LCI in April 2008 from aircraft leasing company AWAS where he was Vice President Sales based in Singapore. During his seven years with AWAS he concluded many transactions throughout Asia including China. Prior to joining AWAS, he was Customer Marketing Director for Airbus for six years, based in Toulouse and latterly Sydney. In this role he was instrumental in several new aircraft deals in Europe and Asia-Pacific region.

In the interview, Nigel discusses his career path, his Cranfield experience, and the aviation industry’s ability to rebounce from crises and difficulties.

To listen to the podcast, please click on the image below: 

LCI and SMFL expand helicopter leasing joint venture – Leasing Life

LCI, a helicopter leasing, management and investment platform, and Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company, Limited (SMFL) have acquired and committed to an additional 12 next-generation helicopters within their helicopter leasing joint venture.

The helicopters, which are worth over US$120 million, represent a more than 50 per cent expansion of the joint venture’s fleet less than a year after it was launched.

The new aircraft comprise of four Airbus Helicopters H145, three Leonardo AW139 and five Leonardo AW169 helicopters. They join the nineteen helicopters already owned by the vehicle which are leased across the globe on missions including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Search and Rescue (SAR), and transportation to offshore wind farms.

Jaspal Jandu, chief executive of LCI, said: “The LCI and SMFL joint venture was purposefully created to offer a wide range of leasing and financing options to the helicopter industry on efficient and flexible terms. These latest acquisitions, so soon after the vehicle’s launch, further validate our efforts and represent a wider vote of continuing investor confidence in the helicopter leasing marketplace.”

Shinichiro Watanabe, managing executive officer of SMFL, said: “The robust model of our joint venture, featuring ESG-friendly, long-term leases on full power by the hour maintenance contracts, together with LCI’s skill as a partner, make this expansion a natural progression. We expect our collective and proven track record, knowledge and financial strength to continue to drive growth in the years ahead.”

LCI’s fleet comprises approximately US$1 billion of assets in service, on order and under management, focused on the latest technology medium and super medium helicopters manufactured by leading helicopter OEMs including Leonardo, Airbus and Sikorsky.

These are in operation across four continents in multiple sectors including emergency medical services, offshore wind, search and rescue, maritime pilot transfer and offshore crew transportation.

To view the article in Leasing Life, click here