BOC Among Lessors to Take Equity in Struggling Norwegian Airliner
On May 20, 2020, it was announced that China’s state-owned BOC Aviation was among a group of aircraft leasing companies that acquired stakes in Norwegian Air amid the airline’s near bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt the global travel industry. BOC’s 12.67% makes it a majority shareholder in the airline alongside Ireland’s Aercap, which assumed a 15% stake in the airline. Other smaller aircraft leasing companies also made similar equity arrangements, however, BOC and Aercap remain the largest shareholders
The leasing firms indicated that they assumed shares as part of a debt conversion agreement between Norwegian Air, and its bondholders, lessors, and shareholders in an effort to boost the company’s equity and mitigate its risk of bankruptcy, as this would unleash a surplus of used planes into the aircraft leasing market, in turn hurting that segment of the industry. A recovery plan for Norwegian Air stipulates that it will operate seven aircrafts for up to 12 months after which point it will build up its fleet to approximately 110–120 plans in 2022.
BOC Aviation’s parent companies include state-owned Bank of China and China Investment Corporation.