Airfinance Journal's 2019 deals of the year were selected by a judging panel of senior aviation finance and independent executives, comprising:
Ben Dijkhuizen (former head of aviation research ING Bank);
Michel Dembinski (former head of aviation EMEA MUFG Bank);
Richard Forsberg (former head of strategy Avolon);
Bertrand Grabowski (former board member and head of aircraft finance at DVB Bank);
Brian Jeffery (chief commercial officer Stratos); and
Christian McCormick (former managing director, global head of finance CALC)
The winners of Airfinance Journal's global awards include:
Africa Deal of the Year: Air Austral Five Aircraft Commercial and PDP Loans
French carrier Air Austral mandated Investec to finance a pair of ATR72-600s for Mayotte-based subsidiary Ewa Air. The transaction, which was the inaugural deal between the parties, involved an initial bridge loan and long-term refinancing through a unique note structure.
Asia-Pacific Deal of the Year: Ortus Aircraft Leasing II $300m Aviation Fund
The Ortus Aircraft Leasing II Fund was the largest equity commitment for a Japanese funded aircraft leasing fund last year.
Europe Deal of the Year: Avolon $2.5 billion Bond Issuance
Avolon’s $2.5 billion senior note issuance marked a cornerstone moment for the lessor as it entered into the investment-grade rating universe.
Latin America Deal of the Year: Avianca $4.5bn 53-Aircraft Lease and Debt Re-Profiling Programme
Avianca renegotiated over $4.5 billion of aircraft lease, debt and other obligations as part of its 2021 strategic plan. The transaction included an offer to exchange its $550 million 8.375% senior unsecured notes due in May 2020 for new senior secured notes due 2023, and a $325 million convertible term loan facility provided by United Airlines, Kingsland International Group, and certain Latin American investors.
North America Deal of the Year: Hawaiian Airlines Six Aircraft Commercial Loans
The transaction achieved record low pricing for Hawaiian Airlines, in both Japanese yen and on a swapped equivalent basis in US dollar (against the airline’s US dollar debt pricing).
Middle East Deal of the Year: Dara Aviation $500m Islamic Financing for 18 Aircraft
The Dara Aviation was the first Sharia-compliant non-recourse revolving warehouse facility, employing a Murabaha commodity structure.
Global Products Awards:
Bank Loan Deal of the Year: PK AirFinance $3.6bn Commercial Loan
The transaction involved Apollo acquiring the PK AirFinance aircraft lending platform and Athene acquiring PK AirFinance’s existing portfolio of loans.
Guaranteed Financing Deal of the Year: El Al $150m 787-9 AFIC-Covered Jolco
The ABL Aviation-coordinated, Development Bank of Japan-funded, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance-fronted, AFIC-supported and SBI-arranged Japanese operating lease with call option (Jolco) financing was the first time an AFIC-supported financing was combined with a Jolco.
Tax Lease Deal of the Year: TAP Air Portugal $200m French Tax Lease for Two A330neos
The transaction, which featured a French lease structure arranged by BNP Paribas combined with a senior loan provided by BNP Paribas and a mezzanine facility from Tamweel Aviation Finance II, marked the inaugural structured French tax lease product for TAP Portugal.
Structured Lease Deal of the Year: Crianza Aviation 787-9 Commercial Loan
The transaction was structured as a euro-denominated facility with lease rentals, including both euro and US dollar components. The multi-currency, multi-tranche facility was one-of-a-kind given most other financings are in US dollars.
Operating Lease Deal of the Year: Vietjet Air 10-Aircraft Operating Leases
The agreement covers multiple aircraft types and a mix of both operating leases as well as finance leases, with support from Novus’ mezzanine funds, Cedar Aviation Finance (CAF) and Tamweel Aviation Finance II (TAF II), offering high loan to value financing.
Sale and Leaseback Deal of the Year: Air Europa $215m SLB and PDP Financing
This year’s sale and leaseback winning transaction included a pre-delivery payments financing tranche, which was structured as a three-tranche solution to optimise the size and keep an efficient all-in cost: a senior tranche underwritten by Natixis, a subordinated tranche also underwritten by Natixis and a junior tranche underwritten by operating lessor Goshawk.
Used Aircraft Deal of the Year: Sunclass Airlines Lease Restructuring for Three A321s
This transaction involved advising on strategy for the exercise of default remedies and redeployment together with the restructuring of the leasing for three aircraft to allow for operation by the new Danish carrier Sunclass Airlines.
Equity Deal of the Year: Titan Aviation $400m Aviation Fund
The transaction represented the first all-freighter joint venture. It was also the largest cargo warehouse facility. It was also the first sidecar vehicle for Titan Aviation and Atlas Air Worldwide and will lift Titan’s ranking to become the largest freighter lessor.
M&A Deal of the Year: MUFG-DVB Bank €4bn M&A
MUFG and its consolidated subsidiary MUFG Bank signed an agreement for the purchase and transfer of DVB’s aviation finance division to MUFG Bank and BOT Lease, MUFG Bank’s affiliate, in March 2019.
Lessor Unsecured Bond Deal of the Year: Nordic Aviation Capital $786m Private Placement
This dual-tranche private placement, which was another step to migrate to unsecured financing, was the largest US private placement by an aircraft leasing company at the time.
Airline Unsecured Bond Deal of the Year: IAG €500m Bond Issuance
In a challenging environment of decreasing interest rates and no material sensibility, IAG was able to price at the lower range of the second guidance representing a spread tightening from initial pricing thoughts of 35bps and 25bps in the short and long tranches, respectively.
EETC Deal of the Year: American Airlines $650m Engine EETC Private Placement
The transaction represented the first broadly distributed private placement engine EETC for the issuer, with 18 investors ultimately participating in the transaction.
ABS Deal of the Year: JOL-Air $554m ABS for 15 Aircraft
The transaction marked the first ABS to feature securitised debt with equity sourced from the Japanese operating lease (Jol) market.
ABS Equity Deal of the Year: Horizon 2019-2 $541m ABS for 18-Aircraft
Horizon 2019-2 was the first tradable equity certificates offered to passive equity investors without an anchor investor.
Innovative Deal of the Year: Avation Commercial Loan for Three ATR72-600s
The Avation commercial loan marked the first green loan aircraft finance certified by Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) rating company Vigeo Eiris on the basis of reduced CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
Overall Capital Markets Deal of the Year: Norwegian Air Shuttle $340m Amendment to Commercial Bonds
The Norwegian Air Shuttle transaction was a consent solicitation to amend and extend two series of Norwegian Air Shuttle bonds. The request asked for a two-year extension to the maturity dates in consideration for certain enhanced legal rights including indirect collateral over Norwegian Air Shuttle’s portfolio of London Gatwick airport take-off and landing slots.
Overall Deal of the Year: Apollo Global Management/Athene $3.5bn M&A
The transaction involved Apollo Global Management acquiring the PK AirFinance aircraft lending platform and Athene Holding acquiring PK AirFinance’s existing portfolio of loans.
Editor Deal of the Year: Cargolux Airlines Two-747F Jolco Refinancing
The transaction marked the first ever Jolco financing for a pure air cargo operator outside Japan.
Event of the Year: Launch of the Airbus A321XLR
The launch of the Airbus A321 extra long-range (XLR) model at the 2019 Paris air show was expected because the European manufacturer was anticipating its US rival, Boeing, not launching its New Midsize Airplane.
Aviation Finance House of the Year: BNP Paribas
BNP Paribas won the Aviation Finance House of the Year Award by demonstrating a broad variety of transactions, as well as creativity across many financing structures.
Lessor Treasury Team of the Year: Avolon
Avolon won this year’s Lessor Treasury Team of the Year award, rounding up an impressive 12-month period in terms offor trading, financing and ordering new aircraft. The highlight of the year was the upgrading of its corporate family and senior unsecured ratings to investment grade with a rating of Baa3 and BBB- respectively by Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings.
Lessor of the Year: Tokyo Century
Tokyo Century was voted Lessor of the Year in 2019 after completing the acquisition of US-based Aviation Capital Group (ACG). The Japanese company held a 20% investment in ACG since December 2017 before starting its journey to fully acquire the California-based lessor last year.
Aviation Woman of the Year: Marilyn Gan
Aviation Person of the Year: Rich Wiley
Lifetime Achievement Award: Tom Hollahan
More information can be found on this year's winner here