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Ireland needs to tackle taxes to lure leasing executives – AerCap CEO

Ireland needs to do more to attract experienced executives if it’s to maintain its position as a global leader in the aircraft-leasing sector, AerCap chief executive Aengus Kelly has warned.

Speaking at the Euromoney Global Airfinance convention in Dublin yesterday, Mr Kelly said that personal tax rates continue to be an inhibitor to attracting talent.

He has previously warned that the punitive higher income tax rate here is a deterrent to attracting high-calibre talent.

“Ireland is the pre-eminent place at the moment [for aircraft leasing]. We cannot take if for granted,” said Mr Kelly.

He said income taxes have to be “competitive and attractive” to lure talent. “We’re only 4.5 million people. We’re not all WB Yeats or Shaw, that’s the reality of it. We’ve got our own share of dumb people too,” said Mr Kelly.

“We just need to bring in talent… as needed. We don’t have the demographic to service all these industries, be it aircraft leasing, be it technology, planning for the impact of Brexit – the country just has to be open to bringing people in to ensure its long-term prosperity.”

But speaking to the Irish Independent, the chief executive of Dublin-based SMBC Aviation Capital, Peter Barrett, said that his own company had managed to grow while nurturing talent.

He also said that SMBC would see “some growth” in its balance sheet in its 2019 financial year, which begins in April. It has $11bn of owned assets and $5bn of managed assets.

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Dublin-based lessor Avolon, Domhnal Slattery, has dismissed speculation that financial concerns at Chinese conglomerate HNA might impact the business.

Avolon is owned by stock market-quoted Bohai Leasing, which is 52pc-owned by HNA. The remainder is owned by Chinese institutional investors.

“This week was important for us to reset the narrative a little bit,” said Mr Slattery. “There’s been a lot of noise in the past day or two about Avolon’s bonds.” He said the price of Avolon’s benchmark bond has tightened 13pc in the last five trading days, and that the yield on the bond has tightened by 22pc.

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