There is new controversy surrounding Indonesia’s Lion Group stable of airlines and its founders, the Kirana brothers.
In February, Lion Air reportedly transferred IDR968 billion ($68 million) to two newly established, unaffiliated companies – Super Air Jet and Aviasi Nusantara (FAN), a new charter carrier, Debtwire has reported, citing two sources and bank statements viewed.
Two sources flagged the timing of the payments to Debtwire, suggesting the transfer “highlights the possibility that the Kirana family might intend to walk away from distressed Lion Air” to focus on Super Air Jet and FAN.
Earlier this month, sources told Airfinance Journal that Super Air Jet could be used by Lion Group to turn a page and start afresh with a clean slate. One option may be to abandon the Lion brand, air operator's certificate (AOC) and all legacy debts in favour of a fresh start under the AOC of Super Air Jet.
“Lion is preparing for the next phase of its 'evolution' – transforming into a newer entity post-Covid. The Indonesian aviation landscape is quite unique from others in Southeast Asia with the political and financial elites enmeshed. Will the Lion group remain as one post-Covid? The indications are it won’t,” Endau Analytics founder and chief analyst Shukor Yusof told Airfinance Journal on 21 May.
On 4 May, Airfinance Journal cited unnamed sources as saying that leasing giant Avolon had agreed a 20-aircraft deal with Super Air Jet, with the first unit already delivered at the time. Avolon will not comment in response.
In March, Airfinance Journal reported that Transportation Partners chief financial officer Valerie Tay was relinquishing her role at the Lion Group in-house lessor. Tay was instrumental in negotiating amicable solutions between Lion Group carriers and aircraft lessors amid the ongoing pandemic, including solutions featuring usage-based lease agreements and term extensions.
Lion Group leases more than 220 mostly narrowbody aircraft.
Excluding its in-house leases from Transportation Partners, the group’s external lessors include BOC Aviation, Avolon, SMBC Aviation Capital, Goshawk and Aviation Capital Group, Fleet Tracker shows.
Goshawk sued Lion in a UK court in late July for missed lease payments on Boeing 737-800 aircraft.