Half of the world’s commercial aircraft fleet is now managed from Ireland, according to the International Development Association (IDA). In Ireland alone, 1,000 people are directly involved in the aviation leasing industry.

Aviation leasing companies have assets of 82.9 billion euros in Ireland according to a survey by the Federation of Aerospace Enterprises.

The official launch of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) Aviation Capital took place in Dublin on Thursday. Barry O’Leary, the CEO of IDA Ireland, said about the launch, “Ireland’s reputation as a global leader in the aircraft leasing sector has been heightened today as a result of this launch.”

Michael Noonan, Minister of Finance, said the launch was, “excellent news for Ireland’s International Financial Sector. As a result of the acquisition the company will remain headquartered here and now has an extremely strong foundation from which to grow the number of its employees, the size of the portfolio of its aircraft, and its customer base of airlines and investors around the world. I wish SMBC every success with this venture and offer the continued support of the Irish Government into the future.”

IDA announced separately that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SMBC. The MoU aims to promote communication and business exchange between Ireland and Japan. Sumitomo Mitsui Finance Dublin Ltd, a subsidiary of SMBC has been in Ireland since 1989 and grew with the recent opening of the Technology Development Centre of Japan Research Institute-America (JRIA) in Tralee.

Barry O'Leary hopes the memorandum will encourage other Japanese companies to invest in Ireland. He said, “Ireland is well positioned to offer Japanese corporations the advantages of an attractive tax regime, a pool of talented resources and a pro-business environment.”

SMBC is the fourth largest aviation leasing firm and has a portfolio of 240 aircraft valued at $8 billion. SMBC is not the only company drawn to Ireland. Nine of the world’s top ten largest aircraft leasing companies are also located in Ireland.

Part of Ireland’s appeal is its low tax rates. Ireland has a 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate and a number of other business friendly tax allowances including zero per cent VAT on international aircraft leasing according to experts. Irish leasing industry started in 1975 when the Guinness Peat Aviation was founded in Shannon, Co Clare.