Global passenger traffic growth and manufacturer delivery delays helped Air Lease Corp. (ALC) post a 48% net profit increase of $146.6 million for the third quarter (3Q) compared to the year-ago period.

Demand for the company’s aircraft “continues to be driven by strong global passenger traffic growth,” CEO John Plueger said during an earnings call with analysts and reporters.

The California-based lessor also benefited from delivery delays by aircraft and engine manufacturers, he said.

The delays “are causing those impacted airlines to extend current leased aircraft or add additional current-generation aircraft,” Plueger said. “These delivery … delays are continuing, and our expectation is that they’ll be ongoing through 2019 and possibly into 2020.”

Revenue was up 20% year-over-year (YOY) to $451 million, a 3Q record, while expenses rose 22% to $271 million.

ALC took delivery of seven aircraft during the quarter and sold 10 to the company’s Thunderbolt II Aircraft Lease Limited affiliate. That brought ALC’s fleet to 268 owned aircraft, down from 271 in 3Q 2017, and 60 aircraft managed for Thunderbolt, up from 50. The fleet’s net book value rose 14% YOY to $15.1 billion. 

The company has 384 aircraft on order and purchase options on 50.

ALC expected to deliver eight aircraft during the quarter, but one slipped to early October. The company expects to deliver 13 aircraft in the fourth quarter.

Jack Wittman, wittmanj@gmail.com