'Getting Things Done'

Aircraft Leasing Ireland is a new organisation that represents 33 aircraft leasing companies - serving as the one voice to speak on behalf of the industry.

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For a sector that contributes over $660 million annually to the Irish economy and employs 5,000 people directly and indirectly, aircraft leasing executives considered it was time to create a representative organisation that could speak with one voice on behalf of the sector. "With 65 percent of the world's leased aircraft fleet and over 50 leasing companies based here in Ireland, we felt it was a critical time to come together as one voice. There was a long overdue need to create awareness of what has been created over the past 40 years and how we can continue to build on that," says David Swan, the first chair of Aircraft leasing Ireland (ALI), who is also chief operating officer of SMBC Aviation Capital. "There are a number of shared issues and needs among aircraft lessors that will benefit from a single powerful voice - issues like education and better use of technology that are important to sustain our industry's strong growth".

In July 2018, in conjunction with Ibec, the biggest lobbying group in Ireland for business, ALI came to fruition and was launched by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe. When the organisation officially launched, 11 leasing companies were involved. Today, there are 33.

4 Main Aims
The key to the organisation comes down to "getting things done," says Swan. "This isn't about talking shop. This is about getting the most for aircraft leasing companies based in Ireland." The "things" that are getting done fall into four main buckets:
  • Have a single, coordinated voice on behalf of aircraft leasing companies based in Ireland.
  • Develop the skills and education that will lead the way to the next generation of aircraft leasing executives in the industry and the other support industries (eg accounting, tax, technical).
  • Advocate for the expansion and improvement of Ireland's double tax treaty network. "Currently, Ireland has signed 74 double tax treaty agreements, the majority of which are very effective from an aircraft leasing perspective," Swan says.
  • Ensure Ireland remains a very competitive place to base your headquarters if you're an aircraft leasing company.

Government Connections
Through Ibec, ALI is also working with Irish government entities such as the Department of Finance and Department of Transport. "The various government departments are delighted to have a single body to talk to when they're looking to get feedback on different policy initiatives, as opposed to having 15 or 20 disparate conversations. It's much more efficient on both sides," Swan says.

Uniquely Irish
Although aircraft leasing is global in nature, there are unique aspects of Ireland's position in the industry. "Ireland is a small country on the edge of the Atlantic that has always had to look outwards," Swan says. "It's a central time zone, so you can do business in the Americas and Asia in your working day, which is very helpful. It's an English-speaking country in the EU, which is also very helpful."

Current Initiatives
The topic of technology and how to utilise it more effectively is a main point of discussion. "There's a lot of great new technology, including blockchain, coming to financial services. We want to try to tap into those ideas to enhance what we provide for customers. We have the support of the Irish government to get industry and technology around the table and see what ideas they have and how best we can use them."

Another big focus for ALI is on education initiatives, with three main objectives:
  • Educate future leaders in the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the world of aviation finance
  • Identify the skills and training needs of the industry and match up the educational resources to produce the talent required for the industry
  • Determine how Ireland can leverage its position as a global centre for aviation finance into the wider aviation community by identifying opportunities both domestically and globally where Ireland's high-quality education institutions, working with industry, can expand their training and skills offering on a wider global stage.

The Best Is Still to Come
ALI is still in its infancy, but the future is bright. With ALI now in place, as new issues arise, the aircraft leasing industry can now react quickly and work together to respond.