Comair Liquidation: Aircraft recovery, transition, and remarketing

Service Area
Asset Management, Aviation Consultancy, Valuation
Target Sector
Investors, Lenders

Overview

In 2020, Comair Limited and its subsidiary Kulula, South Africa’s oldest privately owned airline, filed for bankruptcy protection due to the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions on its business. Despite the efforts of business rescue practitioners to save the airline, it ultimately filed for liquidation in June 2022.

Challenge

Our client, a local South African bank, had provided financing to the airline for the acquisition of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft manufactured in 2012. With the airline entering liquidation, the bank was compelled to repossess the aircraft and remarket it to a new operator.

ACC Aviation was appointed by the bank to oversee the aircraft recovery, transition, and remarketing process.

Our solution

Prior to the airline’s filing for liquidation, the bank engaged ACC Aviation to conduct an inspection of the aircraft. This inspection aided the lender in understanding the aircraft’s technical condition and identifying any issues that might impede the transition and remarketing process. Upon completion of the inspection, ACC Aviation provided a market overview and valuation opinion on the aircraft, helping the bank assess the value of its underlying collateral and potential future remarketing opportunities. This was complemented by a soft marketing campaign for the aircraft, aimed at generating preliminary interest and pricing support for future remarketing, should Comair indeed file for liquidation.

On the date of Comair’s liquidation filing, ACC Aviation deployed its technical resources to oversee the movement of the aircraft to an alternative location. The aircraft was placed under the supervision of a qualified maintenance provider, while ACC Aviation simultaneously initiated the process of records collection and digitalisation.

There were several technical challenges that had to be addressed in the transition process:

  • One of the aircraft’s engines was installed on another aircraft, and ACC Aviation had to coordinate an engine swap with another secured financier to return the engine to the correct aircraft.
  • The aircraft’s certificate of airworthiness had expired and could not be renewed due to overdue maintenance on the landing gear.
  • Overhaul of the landing gear had to be arranged before the aircraft could be sold or delivered to the next operator

While the remarketing process was underway, the aircraft was placed into active storage to ensure its readiness for future ferry and delivery to a new operator.

In parallel with the aircraft recovery process, ACC Aviation initiated active remarketing of the aircraft. Both sale and leasing opportunities were pursued simultaneously, with the bank analysing the relative attractiveness of each based on market offers.

The remarketing process yielded several opportunities; however, the bank elected to pursue an operating lease with a local South African airline. This decision was based on the belief that the aircraft transition and delivery process would be significantly less complex, and the value of the transaction would be more attractive than an outright sale.

ACC Aviation led the negotiation of the letter of intent and lease agreement on behalf of the bank, securing terms that were commercially attractive for our client. Following the execution of the Lease Agreement, our technical team was deployed to manage the delivery and technical acceptance of the aircraft by the lessee.

The aircraft is now on a long-term operating lease with the airline, and the bank is positioned to recover its prior financing exposure to Comair in its entirety.

Client outcomes

This project demonstrates ACC Aviation’s ability to assist our banking clients in navigating the complexities of aircraft recovery and remarketing challenges, while simultaneously securing commercially optimal outcomes for our clients.

Through professional management of the aircraft recovery, transition, and remarketing process, ACC Aviation was able to safeguard the bank’s security and maximize its recovery proceeds. In this case, the projected outcome is a full recovery.

Key achievements

Experience counts.
Our achievements prove it.

  • Successfully managed transfer of a Boeing 737-800 from a bankrupt airline.
  • Ensured full recovery of the bank’s financing exposure to Comair.
  • Secured optimal financial outcomes through sale and leasing opportunities.

GLOBAL REACH, LOCAL EXPERTISE

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