By Bernd Debusmann Jr
The aircraft portfolio being acquired included Etihad Airways' owned fleets of Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A330-300s and A330-200s
Investment firm KKR and commercial aviation finance company Altavair AirFinance have signed an agreement to acquire 38 commercial aircraft from Etihad Airways.
A statement from the two firms said that the acquisition will be made through aircraft leasing and investment platform Altitude Aircraft Leasing, which was established by KKR’s credit and infrastructure funds in 2018 to acquire aircraft serviced by Altavair.
The aircraft portfolio being acquired included Etihad Airways’ owned fleet of 16 Boeing 777-300ERs, 22 Airbus A330s.
As part of the transaction, the Boeing 777-300ERs will be leased back to Etihad upon purchase in 2020, while the A330s will be delivered over the course of 22 months and pace on lease with other international operators.
“Investments like this one are exactly what we hoped to embark on when we first established our partnership with Altavair,” said KKR partner Dan Pietrzak.
Tony Douglas, the group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, said that the company had “made great strides in optimising our fleet structure over the past year, and this investment from KKR and Altavair AirFinance will allow us to take another step forward in this area”.
“This deal will ensure we stand by our strategic and financial sustainability targets by replacing aircraft with the most technologically-advanced and fuel-efficient fleet types,” he added. “The structure of this transaction also provides us with significant flexibility, meaning we are well placed to respond to future growth requirements.”
Last year, Etihad Airways slashed orders worth $21.4 billion at list prices for widebody jetliners, cutting its order for Boeing 777-9 aircraft to 6 jets from 25, as well as cancelling delivery of 42 Airbus A350, leaving it with 20.
While the airline said will continue receiving Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Etihad said it will decide what to do with the rest of the original order at a later date, "through rescheduling, restructuring or reduction."
In an interview with Arabian Business last year, CEO Tony Douglas said he expected the airline to return to modest growth in 2020.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.