Helicopter Leasing rankings 2019


Last year, 2019, might not have been as eventful a year as 2018 for helicopter leasing. But it was a markedly more positive one.

Following the fall-out of Waypoint’s bankruptcy in 2018, dust started to settle in 2019 as lessors adjusted to the new landscape. With this as the backdrop, lessors benefited from consolidation and grew their fleets. But issues with oversupply still remain.

Fleets grew marginally for four of the market’s five largest lessors. The largest fleet growth year-over-year was Macquarie, following the acquisition of Waypoint’s fleet in March 2019. Nova Capital also saw substantial growth, adding $75m worth of aircraft to its fleet, increasing the total book value of its aircraft from $275m to $350m and overtaking Lobo Leasing.

The top five lessors now own approximately 678 helicopters, valued at approximately $8.5bn.

Summarising the lessors’ year in 2019, David Fowkes, managing director of Imperial Capital, told Helicopter Investor: “I think lessors had a difficult time growing last year, with the exception of those with a good capital backing. There aren’t many sale-and-leaseback opportunities out there. But lessors did get more aircraft flying.”

‘The knife is no longer falling’:

We are entering a new normal for demand for civil helicopter leasing’s core market – offshore oil and gas. There is still a surplus of aircraft in the market not flying, and lessors and operators need to adapt to the new demand.

“For the past three years, people have been talking about green shoots, we have yet to see that materialise. But at least now the knife is no longer falling,” Fowkes said.

The question remains, when will we see evidence of a recovery? Responding to this, Fowkes said:

“When pricing comes back and we start to feel a little growth – when the helicopters are being flown seven days a week and not five. I am certainly not expecting to see a full recovery until 2022.”

The ranking below shows official figures from five of the leading leasing companies’ current portfolio figures. The figures are, of course, subject to change.

If you have any questions or suggested corrections, please contact [email protected].

See last year’s 2018 ranking here.



Milestone Aviation:
Current portfolio value: $5bn
Number of helicopters: 300+
Orders and options: valued at $3bn
Customers: more than 40 customers in over 30 countries.
Shareholder: GE Capital Aviation Services
Loan Portfolio: $300m

Macquarie Rotorcraft:
Current portfolio value: est. $1.5bn
Number of helicopters: approx. 160
Shareholder: Macquarie Bank

LCI Helicopters:
Portfolio: $1bn
Number of helicopters owned, managed and on order: 100
Orders and options: c.$150m
Customers: 30+

Nova Capital:
Current portfolio value: $350m
Number of helicopters: 86 (including 3 under delivery)
Shareholder: Founder & CEO
Equity Sponsor: Rive Private Investment

Lobo Leasing:
Current portfolio value: $300m
Number of helicopters: 32
Shareholder: GSO Capital Partners



Major events for helicopter leasing in 2019:

June 2019: Milestone adds its 79th Sikorsky S-92 aircraft. This means the leasing company now owns more than 30% of all S-92s in the air.

March 2019: Macquarie completes the acquisition of Waypoint Leasing. Banks chose to keep some of the assets. Lease Corporation International is manager for a number of helicopters that did not go to Macquarie.