As an island economy, it’s no surprise that the airline industry has played a huge role in the development of Ireland.
From tourism, to business investment and social connectivity, the aviation sector is hugely important to the country. This is backed up in statistics by KPMG, which highlight that flights per capita in Ireland at 3.7 are far higher than many other parts of the world (compared to 1.9 flights per capita in the US, for example).
Against that backdrop, it’s unsurprising that one area of aviation which has boomed in Ireland is the aviation finance industry.
Ireland has become synonymous globally with aircraft leasing
Ireland undoubtedly punches above its weight globally when it comes to aviation finance, with over 60% of the world’s leased aircraft being managed here and contributing €550m+ to the local economy, according to Aircraft Leasing Ireland (ALI), the Ibec group representing the aircraft leasing sector.
There are now over 50 aviation leasing companies based in Ireland, with assets under management growing from €33.5bn in 2007 to €141.6bn in 2016 – in fact, according to the IDA, 14 of the top 15 global lessors by fleet size are based in Ireland.
Growth in the market has been underpinned by merger and acquisition (M&A) activity across the leasing spectrum, as well as foreign direct investment by overseas players such as Ping An Financial Leasing, Bank of China Aviation, Hong Kong Aviation Capital and China Construction Bank.
The IDA certainly views the sector as a strong source of inward investment into Ireland, citing the attractiveness of our corporate tax and VAT regime, availability of double taxation agreements, as well as other allowances and exemptions available to the aviation finance industry. Coupled with the availability of talent and expert industry advisors, it’s expected that Ireland will continue to be seen as the global hub of aviation leasing, with ongoing strong demand for aircraft globally providing a great opportunity for Irish-based companies.
Compelling career opportunities in the aviation finance sector
Ireland enjoys a highly skilled and experienced workforce, which has likely been a key factor in the country’s dominance in aircraft leasing and finance – with over 5,000 people employed in the space according to ALI.
The industry represents an exciting and varied career opportunity, with roles spanning the entire industry – including technical, sales, legal and accounting, as well as asset management and securitisation roles. Candidates in the sector can also enjoy working with highly experienced professionals from all over the world – representing an opportunity to acquire a truly global mindset.
In addition, the sector typically enjoys stronger remuneration levels than other industries in Ireland. Research by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) highlights that the average annual pay of an employee in the industry was more than €165k in 2016, up from €104k in 2007, tracking a 16% year-on-year growth in employment in the sector over the same period.
With above average pay and a range of roles across complex deals on offer, it’s no surprise that the aviation leasing job market is competitive. As such, candidates who are looking to break into the sector are expected to have strong and relevant academic qualifications.
There are courses available in DCU and Carlow Institute of Technology for candidates who are interested in a route into the sector. In addition, the MSc in Aviation Finance now offered by the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School represents the only masters level degree in this sector in Europe and offers candidates the opportunity to develop strong specialist skills at a leadership level.
With an exciting outlook for aviation finance in Ireland, there’s never been a better time to consider career opportunities in the sector. At Spot Recruitment, as a recruitment firm specialising in placing accounting and finance professionals across a range of industries, we’d love to discuss your career aspirations in the aviation leasing sector.