United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based lessor Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) will retain its strong focus on new-generation, narrowbody aircraft as it seeks to expand its portfolio over the next few years, DAE CEO Firoz Tarapore said at the Annual Global Airfinance Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

“As we grow from 400 aircraft, and as we transition from current to new technology [models], one thing we have to secure is the bread-and-butter part of the market and build around it,” he said.

“I think we will focus almost entirely on the [Airbus] A320 and [Boeing] 737 and, if a client opportunity leads us there, we would look at the A321 and its Boeing equivalent,” he said. “DAE is seeking to add assets worth “something south of $2 billion a year for the next few years,” Tarapore added, saying he is seeking to establish a pipeline of new aircraft to increase the scale of its fleet.

He would only sign up for new aircraft “when the sun, the moon and the stars are aligned,” he joked, but said discussions were ongoing.

The UAE-based lessor DAE has bought several batches of ATR 72-600s and is one of only a small group of lessors to show interest in turboprops. Tarapore said the aircraft “ticked all the boxes” in terms of attractive factors for a lessor, such as the scale of the potential market and the number of countries in which the type was operating.

The company had realized almost immediately on buying them that turboprops were a scale business and, having placed an initial order at the 2014 Singapore Air Show for 20 plus 20 options, in 2017 it bought a portfolio of further of the type from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

DAE has around $1 billion worth of ATR 72-600s on its books and that group of aircraft “behaves better than any other. We love that asset and wish we could get our hands on more.” Tarapore said he would not be averse to doubling DAE’s investment in the type to $2 billion “but there’s no clear line of sight on how that would happen. There’s not a business plan to support that at the moment.”

DAE has an active fleet of around 340 aircraft of all types and Tarapore believes optimal size of the eventual fleet would be somewhere between 400-700. “This is where we feel our platform can perform at its peak potential,” he said.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com