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Dongjiang FTPZ banks on innovation to boost growth momentum

By Yang Cheng in Tianjin China Daily Updated: 2019-09-25
Cargo containers pack at the Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone on July 17, 2019. [Photo/IC]

The Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone, the world's second largest airplane leasing market behind that of Ireland, is taking concrete measures to tackle the challenges of a massive wave of airplane redeliveries or contract terminations that are expected to hit over the next two years.

Since the founding of the zone in 2009, a total of 1,500 airplanes have been leased out, with total assets hitting up to 1.5 trillion yuan ($211.4 billion).

Airplane leasing contracts normally last eight to 10 years, and then the devalued planes may be leased, redelivered, undergoing major maintenance, or their services may be stopped.

In the next few years, Dongjiang is likely to see slower growth rates following the completion of the first round of airplane leasing contracts.

"We are conducting research and coming up with new ideas for the assets' future management, aiming to boost Dongjiang's airplane assets," Shen Lei, director of the administrative committee of the Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone, said in participation of the major market shift that is likely on the way.

"In the past few years, Dongjiang has frequently seen its assets surge by 50 percent annually, so how to continue the momentum is sometimes my top concern," she admitted.

The diversified and innovative finance leasing methods in the past 10 years adopted in Dongjiang have helped quench the thirst for airliners, reduce the pressure from bank loans and trimmed the transaction costs.

"Dongjiang's next step to take off will see it rely on more market approaches under international norms, strengthen asset management, and adopt constant policy innovations," Shen said.

One factor that is going to be a top matter on Dongjiang's agenda is to boost asset management, the director stressed.

To this end, the DFTP Aircraft Asset Management Co Ltd was set up in September. Dongjiang government's investment in the firm has been up to 50 percent of the total.

Chen Lili, president of DFTP, told China Daily the company's establishment has seen strong support from investors.

"During the preparations for the founding of the company, many investors contacted us to inject their capital," she said, citing in part the ever-expanding airplane market in China.

The registered capital will soon double to 20 million yuan from the current 10 million yuan, she added. The company now has two other stockholders. They are Xiamen Aircraft Leasing Co Ltd and Sichuan Haite Industry Co Ltd.

"Now we're looking for overseas investors, but we are highly selective," Chen said. "Unfortunately many investment arms under banks contacted us to join, but they are not allowed to join leasing asset management companies according to Chinese laws."

DFTP will soon join the airplane redelivery moves in the zone, and Chen expects the company will provide service to up to 800 airplanes over the next three years.

"The market value is expected to soon hit the top in the global market," Chen said, adding that it's hard to give a precise prediction of the possible market value due to the fact that some of the airplanes have experienced a major devaluation over the past 10 years.

The company will provide a package of services including examination of the surrender of tenancy, redelivery, asset management, and policy consultations.

"We will also set up a secondhand market platform for the transactions of the airplanes and some transaction funds," she said. "Widespread collaborations with foreign counterparts will be built to help step up the global movability of the assets."