Airfinance Journal Awards 2020 winners | Analysis | Airfinance Journal

Airfinance Journal Awards 2020 winners

Airfinance Journal has announced the winners of its 2020 Awards.

Find the video of the winners per category below

The 2020 Deals of the Year were selected by a judging panel of senior aviation finance and independent executives, comprising:

Michel Dembinski (former head of aviation EMEA MUFG Bank);
Richard Forsberg (former head of strategy Avolon);
Bertrand Grabowski (former board member and head of aircraft finance at DVB Bank);
Michael Halaby (former head of aviation debt origination EMEA Deutsche Bank); and
John Feren (Former executive, Aviation Capital Group and Boeing)

The winners of Airfinance Journal's global awards include:

Regional Awards:

Africa Deal of the Year: TAAG Angola Airlines $145m Commercial Loan for six Dash8-400s
This transaction was a uniquely African deal, with an African airline assets financed by an all-African banking consortium.

Asia-Pacific Deal of the Year: Cathay Pacific Airways HK$39bn Recapitalisation Plan
This transaction was the second largest ever government-led airline recapitalization package in the Asia-Pacific region. It included a triple- recapitalisation proposal involving an issuance of preference shares, a HK$11.7 billion rights issue, and a committed bridge loan facility of HK$7.8 billion.

Europe Deal of the Year: Virgin Atlantic £1.2bn Recapitalisation Plan
This restructuring plan involved multiple classes of creditors who voted on the plan, including traditional lenders, lessors and trade creditors. Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to use the new UK restructuring plan to implement its recapitalisation, making use of Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006.

Latin America Deal of the Year: Azul R$1.74bn Convertible Bonds
This specific structure developed for the Azul convertible debenture offering has never been used before. It includes a number of innovative features designed to protect the anchor investors' downside, including a pledge of Azul's loyalty programme, and other assets to secure the debentures, and a New York law payment guarantee in order to provide Knighthead and Certares with recourse to the New York courts in the event of a payment default.

North America Deal of the Year: Jetblue Airways $550m Revolving Credit Facility
Jetblue Airways became the first-ever airline to deploy a sustainability-linked loan (SLL) by amending its existing $550 million senior secured revolving credit facility due July 2023. The transaction was truly innovative as the interest rate or commitment fee paid on the RCF increases or decreases based on whether a company achieves agreed-upon sustainability metrics. This gives Jetblue a financial incentive to attain their targets as part of their corporate sustainability strategy.

Middle East Deal of the Year: Qatar Airways $800m Finance Lease for seven 787-9s
This large financing transaction was one of - if not the - largest solely underwritten loans advanced by a bank post the onset of Covid-19 at the time. It is a testimony to the longstanding and deep relationship between Qatar Airways and Standard Chartered Bank.

Global Products Awards:

Bank Loan Deal of the Year: Bleriot Aviation Funding $300m Warehouse Facility
This transaction is a leading example of increased joint venture activity in the aviation finance and leasing market in light of the Covid-19 pandemic with Airbus capitalising on an opportunity to further diversify its business with an aim to develop a foothold in the aircraft leasing market.

Guaranteed Financing Deal of the Year: Skywest Airlines $80m AFIC-supported financing for E175s
This transaction had many 'firsts': First expansion of AFIC product to Embraer, first AFIC-supported financing for an airline based in the USA, as well as the first transaction for a regional airline. The deal also marked the first AFIC-supported financing for commercial aircraft funded by an export credit agency.

Tax Lease Deal of the Year: Pegasus Airlines €55m Jolco financing for one A321neo
The Pegasus Airlines' Jolco financing of an Airbus A321neo delivery was truly innovative in terms of the structure of the transaction as well as the fact that it was the first aircraft ever delivered fully remotely from a manufacturer's production line.

Structured Lease Deal of the Year: BOCOM Leasing-China Postal Airlines Operating Lease for two 737-800s
The 2020 Structured Lease Deal of the Year was innovative for combining with asset trade in order to conduct the conversion in tax bonded zone by the relevant MRO in the PRC and matching the payment requirements to Boeing from customs and CAAC requirements for the conversion.

Operating Lease Deal of the Year: ST Engineering Aerospace Resources A321 Aviation Fund
This secured asset-based deal for the conversion of an A321 aircraft to freighter marked the first A321P2F conversion financing. The passenger aircraft, which is on lease to the Qantas Group is being converted by ST Engineering and delivered at the end of 2021.

Sale and Leaseback Deal of the Year: United Airlines 22 Aircraft Sale and Leaseback
This large transaction reflects BOC Aviation's proactive approach at the beginning of Covid-19 to provide assistance to customers through the difficult environment.

Used Aircraft Deal of the Year: Altavair/KKR $600m Warehouse Facility for 38 Aircraft
This warehouse facility provides $600m in funding for a total of 38 widebody aircraft. The transaction sees Boeing 777-300ERs to be leased back to Etihad Airways upon purchase, while the Airbus A330s will be delivered over the next 22 months and placed with other operators for either passenger operations or as converted freighters.

Cargo Deal of the Year: FedEx $970m EETC for 19 Freighter Aircraft
FedEx 2020-1 benefitted from tailwind sentiment for cargo aircraft. This winning deal marked the first freighter-only EETC in nearly two decades and was the first FedEx new issuance since 1999. Not only did FedEx issue the only AA tranche during the Covid-19 pandemic (at the time), but also achieved the highest LTV ever for that rating category.

New Fund/Alternative Platform of the Year: Castlelake up to $5 billion Boeing Aircraft Fund
Castlelake designed the aircraft financing collaboration with Boeing to fill the new delivery financing gap via committed capital dedicated to particularly high LTV lending. The structure supports the global fleet transition from older technology to newer, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft.

Equity Deal of the Year: Norwegian Air Shuttle $1.6bn Recapitalisation
The transaction was a critical reorganisation plan allowing for government involvement. In normal circumstances it is extremely uncommon for lessors to take equity in airline customers, but Norwegian was able to take advantage of the unique market situation resulting from Covid-19 to persuade its lessors that this innovative proposal was the best option available for them.

M&A Deal of the Year: Bain Capital A$3.5bn Recapitalisation and Restructuring of Virgin Australia
The corporate rescue of Australia's second largest airline represented the largest of its kind in the past two decades. The transaction was structured as an asset sale with an undertaking from Bain Capital to put forward a Deed Of Company Arrangement proposal at a premium price for creditors.

Lessor Unsecured Bond Deal of the Year: Aercap $1.5bn Bond Issuance
This transaction represented Aercap's first bond issuance post-Covid-19. The offering represented Aercap's largest senior debt tranche ever and set a new benchmark at approximately 50 basis points inside of where their curve was trading in the secondary market for a five-year issuance.

Airline Unsecured Bond Deal of the Year: Etihad Airways $600m Sukuk
This transaction had many firsts: It marked the first sustainability-linked issuance for the aviation sector, first transition issuance for the aviation sector. The deal also represented the first sustainability-linked bond structure to adopt purchase of carbon offsets instead of coupon step-ups.

EETC Deal of the Year: United Airlines 352-aircraft $3bn EETC
This large transaction marked the first time an EETC was ever secured by a single pool of collateral comprised of aircraft, spare engines and spare parts.

ABS Deal of the Year: WEST V $366.7 million ABS for 57 engines
WEST V represented the first time the issuer closed a three-tranche structure of such as size. Some of the proceeds refinanced the WEST II transaction, a 10-year deal which repaid the predecessor ABS notes of WEST I, in September 2012.

Innovative Deal of the Year: American Airlines $1bn Bond Issuance
This transaction was one of the first airline financings to significantly leverage brand and trademark intellectual property (IP) in the airline sector. It also represented the largest private placement in the US by any investor in the airline market.

Overall Capital Markets Deal of the Year: SAPA 2020-1 $620m ABS for 21 aircraft

SAPA 2020-1 represented the lowest blended yield across the entire debt deals in this post-financial crisis vintage of issuance. The 3.25% for A-rated aircraft ABS represented the lowest yield across all aircraft ABS A-rated bonds. The 3.75% for BBB-rated aircraft ABS was the joint lowest yield across all aircraft ABS BBB-rated bonds.

Overall Deal of the Year: United Airlines $6.8 billion Mileage Plus Programme
This transaction had all the ingredients to win this year's Overall Deal of the Year Award: it was one of the largest financings in aviation history, an hybrid transaction that melds concepts from corporate loan and bond transactions. No other airline had previously leveraged its frequent flier programme in such a fashion. It set up a benchmark in the aviation industry.

Editor Deal of the Year: Castlelake Lessor Term Financing
The transaction marked the first secured notes financing transaction in almost a decade. It required a rateable instrument and drove the development of a new and innovative structure, building off familiar EETC technology, to accommodate both the lessor's financing needs and investor requirements.

News Event of the Year: GECAS-PIMCO $3bn Aviation Fund
This $3bn aviation fund creates a strategic investment platform to enable GECAS and PIMCO-advised accounts to acquire new and young fuel-efficient aircraft. The transaction involved a bespoke investment structure development in order to meet both PIMCO's and GECAS's detailed investment criteria and funding requirements.”

Team Awards:

Aviation Finance House of the Year: BNP Paribas Aviation Finance Franchise
BNP Paribas picks up again this prestigious award for delivering a spectrum of financing solutions as well as creativity across many financing structures. BNP Paribas was involved in over $100 billion aviation sector transactions, more than doubling the deal size of its 2019's deal flow.

Airline Treasury Team of the Year: Pegasus Airlines
The Pegasus Airlines Aircraft Finance Team excelled at diversifying its financing channel by closing different structures last year including: Insurance-supported financing product Balthazar financings, ECA-backed financings, Jolco financings for new deliveries. The team also secured exit of some of its Boeing 737-800s via the sale and leaseback market.

Lessor Treasury Team of the Year: Avolon
Avolon won this year’s Lessor Treasury Team of the Year award. The Avolon Treasury Team successfully raised a total of $4.4 billion of debt in 2020, including $3.4 billion of senior unsecured notes, and $675 million of secured term loan debt - all while remaining an investment grade rated credit. These activities allowed the lessor to maintain an excess of $5 billion of liquidity throughout the year and ended the year 2020 with a total available liquidity position of $6.8 billion - the strongest liquidity position we have had in its history.

Lessor of the Year: Avolon
Avolon was voted Lessor of the Year in 2020. The lessor managed to maintain its investment grade status while delivering a solid performance on three pillars: customers, liquidity and supporting its communities.

Individual Awards:

Aviation Person of the Year: Greg Lee (Goldman Sachs)

Lifetime Achievement Award: Phang Thim Fatt (BOC Aviation)

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