Representatives from airlines, leasing companies, law firms, and financial institutions gathered at Hotel Sofitel London Gatwick on 9 November to attend ACC Aviation’s 15th Airline Conference, a unique event on the aviation industry’s calendar.
“The ACC Conference provides the opportunity for our partners to share current industry trends and issues while networking together in a relaxed and informal setting,” explains Phil Mathews, ACC Aviation CEO. “It is unique in both content and delegates, and I don’t believe there is any other event focused as tightly on our niche.”
A host of guest speakers from the aviation industry gave insights into such topics as ACMI leasing, aviation finance, cargo, aircraft trading and leasing, sustainability, and current legal challenges in the airline industry.
The conference opened with an update on the aviation market from Dave Stroud, Managing Director of Strategy and Consulting at ASM Route Development Consultants, who explained some of the challenges and opportunities facing the airline industry before giving his short- to medium-term predictions.
This was followed by an update on the world of ACMI leasing from Dave Williams, Director of Leasing at ACC Aviation. He said: “It’s fantastic to see the ACC Airline Conference return after a 2-year absence with the largest ever attendance for the last 15 years. The conference is a chance to reunite ACMI and charter airlines, as well as other aviation professionals, to discuss current industry topics and market-wide aviation agenda items. The ACC Airline Conference is the only event focused on the ACMI leasing market at its core, with ACC Aviation’s market-leading ACMI team able to provide invaluable oversight in the niche sector within the aviation industry after a successful 2022 following the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The Aviation Finance Panel followed, moderated by Rob Watts, Director of Consulting at ACC Aviation. With representatives from NORD/LB, MUFG Bank Ltd and Embraer, the panel discussed challenges for the lending market and how it evolved through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as current market trends and the outlook for the future.
“The aviation finance market continues to be very dynamic, now being driven by a challenging economic outlook and rapidly increasing interest rates,” said Rob. “The purpose of the aviation finance panel was to explore how airlines and lenders worked together through the Covid period and the status of those situations now. The panel also provided conference attendees with a broad update on the trends affecting aircraft finance in the near term as well as the outlook for the aviation finance market over the coming years.”
The Airline and Lessor Cargo Panel, moderated by Richard Smith, Director of Charter at ACC Aviation was the first of its kind at an ACC Conference. “This is the first time we’ve had a cargo panel, which is indicative of what’s happened in the industry,” explained Richard. “We saw a sharp decline in scheduled passenger flights in 2020 along with a massive rise in the demand for PPE, which had a huge impact on cargo space available. So, it’s a really topical time to look back at how that impacted the market and what the implications are for the future.”
Next, Faisal Gara, Business Development Manager at ACC Aviation, took to the stage to host a panel of experts spanning aircraft asset managers, banks, and aircraft appraisers to discuss aircraft trading and leasing. “The purpose of the panel was to provide attendees with a high-level overview of the current aircraft trading and leasing climate taking into account rising interest rates, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Ukraine conflict,” explained Faisal. The panel also discussed the importance of transparency between operators and lessors as well as understanding the different lessor profiles and the different types of deals to be made.
A talk on how Embraer is reinventing aviation towards a sustainable future followed as the company’s Airline Marketing Manager – EMEA, Basil Gygax, explained Embraer’s view on the decarbonization of the aviation industry as well as the types of products being developed to help reach net zero by 2050.
Trevor Charsley, Senior Market Strategist at Corpay then gave an insightful presentation on his views of the impact of a volatile currency market as well as some predictions for the future.
The day’s formal proceedings concluded with one last panel discussion. This time, partners from law firms Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and Norton Rose Fulbright LLP were hosted by Rob Watts to discuss some of the legal challenges currently faced by the aviation industry.
“A host of legal issues have emerged over the past two years with significant implication for airlines and the aviation community as a whole,” explained Rob. “The legal panel explored the limitations posed on the ACMI and leasing markets by newly imposed sanctions on Russia as well as other sanctioned jurisdictions. It also explored how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the drafting of ACMI leasing contracts and the learnings from this period. Lastly, the panel explored the migration of ACMI and charter airlines into alternative jurisdictions such as Malta and the subsequent process for gaining US approvals to access this lucrative market.”
“After a break of 2 years due to the pandemic, we were delighted to bring the Conference back to its traditional place in the calendar,” said Phil Mathews. “The feedback that we received both during and after the Conference from the record number of delegates was universally positive and we look forward to the next 15 years of the ACC Conference. We aim to ensure that we continue to innovate while keeping the content relevant and interesting to our audience.”