Chao Wu has been promoted to head of EMEA at ICBC Aviation Leasing.
He was previously vice-president of sales and marketing, based in Dublin, a role he had held since 2017.
Before entering aircraft leasing, Wu was involved in aircraft design and engineering, including more than six years at Airbus in Toulouse, where he was doing design and certification work for the A350XWB programme.
During his time at ICBC Aviation, Wu has been instrumental in growing the platform in the EMEA region, including several landmark deals he closed involving Air France-KLM airlines, IAG Group carriers, Qatar Airways, Middle East Airlines and Flydubai.
During his tenure, ICBC Aviation’s EMEA fleet grew by 50%; its customer base increased by 40%.
In 2021, ICBC Aviation agreed its 100th operating lease in the EMEA region, with leases to 25 different customers.
By the first quarter of 2022, this had increased to 111 aircraft on lease to 26 customers in EMEA.
New technology aircraft comprise 57% of the firm’s EMEA portfolio.
The Chinese bank-backed lessor has expanded rapidly over the past decade, growing its fleet to 455 in-service aircraft at the end of 2021, not including committed deals, which makes it the sixth-largest aircraft lessor by fleet count, as per Airfinance Journal's latest Leasing Top 50, following Aercap, Avolon, BBAM, SMBC Aviation Capital and Nordic Aviation Capital.
Just before year-end 2021, ICBC Aviation delivered the first of two A220-300 aircraft to Air France. The aircraft, acquired via a sale and leaseback (SLB) transaction with the airline, was the first A220 aircraft in the ICBC Aviation portfolio.
ICBC Leasing was the lessor most heavily involved in 2021 in Air France-KLM’s fleet renewal and expansion plan, delivering nine aircraft to the group through the year from the A220, A350, 737 and Embraer E2 families.
Certain of those aircraft came from ICBC Leasing’s orderbook, while others were acquired through SLB transactions or transitioned from previous operators.
Wu said it is “executing a clear strategy to invest in the most technologically advanced, but more importantly the most environmentally friendly aircraft”.
He confirms that in addition to the nine aircraft delivered to Air France-KLM in 2021, ICBC Aviation will place another eight aircraft with the group in 2022 and beyond, including more A220s for Air France and additional E195-E2 aircraft for KLM.
Other recent deals closed under Wu’s stewardship include an A350 SLB with Iberia in March.
Airfinance Journal data shows that ICBC Leasing’s largest airline customers by number of aircraft placed are China Southern Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Air China and Xiamen Airlines, followed by Garuda Indonesia-linked Citilink, China Eastern Airlines, Asiana Airlines and Qatar Airways.