Used Airbus A380s at 40 per cent off – while stocks last

Used Airbus A380 superjumbos are being offered at a 40 per cent discount to the US$2 million-plus monthly rental rate for a new plane as the leasing firm Doric seeks to spur demand for the second-hand jets.

Doric is in talks with a number of potential operators for a tranche of double-deckers that could be returned by Singapore Airlines and Emirates from 2017 following the completion of 10-year leases, said Sibylle Paehler, the lessor’s managing director.

Interested parties span second-tier airlines that have not yet flown the A380 through charter carriers and companies that specialise in so-called wet-lease services, in which jets are provided for a limited term complete with crews.

“Each has a different business model, so it’s hard to make precise forecasts on the most-likely future use,” Ms Paehler said, adding that the main stumbling block is that “nobody wants to be first” in announcing a deal for a 550-seat plane whose popularity as a second-hand transport has yet to be demonstrated.

Doric, which owns the first five A380s that Singapore Air is entitled to return in conjunction with Dr Peters Fund KG of Germany, is offering the jetliners as a whole or in bundles of two and three, since a single example would not be enough to serve the average long-distance route.

Leases for as little as five years – half the usual lease term – could be accepted in order to maximise interest, Ms Paehler said, adding that some carriers might want A380s only at certain times of the year such as the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, and that Doric is looking at ways to accommodate those needs.

While some carriers have inquired about buying the planes, Doric, which has its main offices in Offenbach, Germany, reckons the assets would offer a bigger return if it retains ownership, Ms Paehler said. A 10-year-old superjumbo might sell for $100m, compared with a $428m list price for a current example, although buyers of new jets can negotiate significant discounts.

Airbus has suggested the A380 might have a second life plying six-to-eight-hour routes for low-cost Asian airlines. The manufacturer is continuing to seek fresh sales avenues after order momentum slowed in recent years, something that could complicate its participation in the marketing of used aircraft.

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