Aviation Buy versus Lease

Aircraft are expensive and, while using cash, to purchase a $30 million heavy helicopter is often the “cheapest” method, lease financing is a strategic form of finance that is gaining momentum. Progressive operators that are updating their fleets or increasing capacity are considering these short or long-term options to maximize their investments.

This trend in the helicopter sector has seen a number of new financing and leasing organizations providing a variety of benefits. While leasing is well established in fixed wing, particularly airlines, helicopter operators are now using this more aggressively for current/future growth, sale/lease back and even to opportunistically bid on new contracts.
While there are a number of financing schemes available, for simplicity aircraft financing in this context refers to the financing of a particular helicopter or fixed wing that the operator would then operate.
So what are the top reasons to consider a BUY or a LEASE?


  • Opportunity to purchase directly from the aircraft owner or OEM, possibly at a discount.
  • Potential to negotiate the other values that come with the purchase (training slots, parts, term payments).
  • Taking advantage of tight timing to buy (current) as the aircraft are available.
  • Maximize the long term fleet strategy to secure valuable slot(s) over a long term.
  • Possibility to resell a slot at a profit if the OEM has an interested buyer.
  • Option to negotiate a deferred delivery.
  • Option to “switch” from your slot to a medium or heavy type.
  • Possibility to add to your order with increased fleet.
  • Advantage of an OEM relationship (PBH, Technical support, Account Mgmt support).
  • Launch customer bragging rights … to have the first MSN of the type.


  • No money down – 100 % paid including the possibility of return on deposits (conserve cash).
  • Bid or Tender – Opportunity to participate on new business with Lessor ordered aircraft.
  • Sell and lease back – Conserve cash by selling your aircraft (Improve your credit).
  • Diversify fleet management/finance – Employ the lease strategy to compliment owned aircraft.
  • Off Balance Sheet – Record the rental expense versus the full cost of ownership (debt reduction).
  • Short term contracts (5 years or less) – Possibility to change aircraft to newer technology with no risk.
  • Tax treatment – Possible tax write-off as business expense.
  • Payment Terms – Possibility to negotiate monthly payments, terms and schedule.
  • Reduce risk of residual value.
  • Give it back at the end of the lease.

For additional information
Contact Michael Nagel @ +1 604 616 2662
[email protected]