A Chinese consortium may be poised to take over what was the most important airliner leasing company in the world, but a leading analyst is wondering why. American International Group (AIG) says it is in talks with a group led by New China Trust Co. Ltd., New China Life Insurance Co. Ltd., P3 Investments Ltd. and China Aviation Industrial Fund to sell a 90-percent stake in International Lease Finance Corp., which leases aircraft to many of the world's airlines. In a podcast interview with AVweb, Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said ILFC, which was the undisputed dominant figure in the leasing business until a few years ago, has not kept up with the times.
Aboulafia said ILFC, while still the largest, has the oldest fleet of aircraft among leasing companies and he wondered if the Chinese suitors have the cash and the desire to restore ILFC to its former prominence, rather than just assuming the role of "a curator of an old jet museum." If the bid does have the necessary backing and makes the investment, it could mark a major shift in the way the airline business works, he said. AIG wants to dump the leasing business to help pay a $182 billion bailout from the U.S. government.