Guinness Peat Aviation
Guinness Peat Aviation was a Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing
Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing
Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing is a common phrase used to describe organizations which typically market used commercial airliners and related equipment to governments and other various customers from manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing as a primary function...

 company set up in 1975 by Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

, the Guinness Peat Group
Guinness Peat Group
Guinness Peat Group is an investment holding company with interests in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.-History:The company, which had been formed as an investment offshoot of the London-based investment bank Guinness Mahon in the 1980s, was acquired by Brierley Investments Limited in 1990...

 (a London based financial services company) and Tony Ryan
Tony Ryan
Thomas Anthony "Tony" Ryan was an Irish multi-millionaire, philanthropist and businessman.He was a founder of Guinness Peat Aviation as well as co-founder of Ryanair with Christy Ryan and Liam Lonergan...

, then an Aer Lingus executive.


GPA was based in Shannon
Shannon, County Clare
Shannon or Shannon Town , named after the river near which it stands, is a town located in County Clare. It was given town status on 1 January 1982. The town is located just off the N19 road, a spur of the N18/M18 road between Limerick city and Ennis....

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, during the 1980s it became the world's largest commercial aircraft lessor and expanded its shareholding to include Air Canada
Air Canada
Air Canada is the flag carrier and largest airline of Canada. The airline, founded in 1936, provides scheduled and charter air transport for passengers and cargo to 178 destinations worldwide. It is the world's tenth largest passenger airline by number of destinations, and the airline is a...

 and companies in the Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...

 group. At its peak, the company was valued at $4 bn. Net income reached $265 mn in the year to 31 March 1992.

Former Taoiseach
The Taoiseach is the head of government or prime minister of Ireland. The Taoiseach is appointed by the President upon the nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas , and must, in order to remain in office, retain the support of a majority in the Dáil.The current Taoiseach is...

 Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald was an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach of Ireland, serving in office from July 1981 to February 1982 and again from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He...

, former British chancellor of the exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 Nigel Lawson
Nigel Lawson
Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, PC , is a British Conservative politician and journalist. He was a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Blaby from 1974–92, and served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the government of Margaret Thatcher from June 1983 to October 1989...

, Peter Sutherland and the former Chairman of ICI, Sir John Harvey-Jones, were among GPA's non-executive directors. Lawson joined the board of GPA in February 1990 but he also became chairman of GPA Financial, a subsidiary company.

In 1990, GPA stunned the aviation world by placing a $17 billion order for 700 new aircraft over the following decade. A new company, GPA Helicopters Ltd., was set up in June 1990 as a joint venture with CHC Helicopter
CHC Helicopter
CHC Helicopter is one of the world’s largest helicopter services company specializing in: Transportation to offshore oil and gas platforms; Civilian search and rescue services; Helicopter maintenance repair and overhaul...

 to acquire, own and lease helicopters worldwide.


The decision to float the company on the stock market
Stock market
A stock market or equity market is a public entity for the trading of company stock and derivatives at an agreed price; these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately.The size of the world stock market was estimated at about $36.6 trillion...

 in 1992, during an aviation industry downturn following the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, proved disastrous, as international financial institutions
International financial institutions
International financial institutions are financial institutions that have been established by more than one country, and hence are subjects of international law. Their owners or shareholders are generally national governments, although other international institutions and other organisations...

 refused to buy shares. Unable to raise the capital it needed to continue its ambitious operations, the company plunged into crisis, with some $10 billion in debts.

The story of GPA's downfall is told by Christopher Brown in his 2009 book Crash Landing - An Inside Account of the Fall of GPA. The book recounts the history, background and run-in to the failed IPO, subsequent collapse, rescue by GE Capital and the early years of GECAS. It is based on a contemporaneous diary of events kept by Brown from 1985 to 1996 while he was employed as a senior executive of GPA and subsequently GECAS.


In a subsequent restructuring
Restructuring is the corporate management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs...

 completed in November 1993, GPA sold some of its aircraft to a subsidiary of General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

, GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), which also took over the operational management of GPA's fleet and most of GPA's technical and marketing staff. GE Capital
GE Capital
GE Capital is the financial services unit of General Electric, one of five major units. Its various divisions include GE Capital Aviation Services, GE Capital Real Estate, GE Energy Financial Services and GE Money....

 also acquired an option to purchase 90% of GPA's ordinary shares at a low price. GPA used the cash from this transaction to repay all its unsecured debt. Chairman and Chief Executive Tony Ryan transferred to GECAS. He was replaced by Patrick Blaney as Chief Executive and by Dennis Stevenson
Dennis Stevenson, Baron Stevenson of Coddenham
Henry Dennistoun "Dennis" Stevenson, CBE, DL was created a life peer as Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, of Coddenham in the County of Suffolk in 1999, and was awarded a CBE in 1981...

 (later Lord Stevenson of Coddenham) as Chairman.

GPA continued to own a substantial fleet and in March 1996 sold 229 aircraft for $4 bn in what was at the time the second largest securitisation transaction ever. GPA used the cash from this sale to repay all of its secured debt and the company returned to profit in the year to 31 March 1996 with net income of $65 mn.

GPA further consolidated its position in the years to 31 March 1997, 1998 and 1999, reporting net income of $108 mn, $64 mn and $47 mn. In November 1998, Texas Pacific Group
Texas Pacific Group
TPG Capital is one of the largest private equity investment firms globally, focused on leveraged buyout, growth capital and leveraged recapitalization investments in distressed companies and turnaround situations. TPG also manages investment funds specializing in growth capital, venture capital,...

 acquired 62% of the company's shares and GE Capital's 1993 option was replaced by one to acquire an interest of 23%. As part of this transaction, the name of the company was changed to AerFi Group plc.

In December 1999, AerFi acquired Indigo Aviation, a Swedish aircraft lessor, and by 31 March 2000 was managing a fleet of 104 aircraft and reporting a profit of $68 mn. In November 2000, AerFi was acquired by debis AirFinance, an affiliate of DaimlerChrysler AG, for $750 mn. AerFi's fleet and staff were then merged into those of debis and much of the management transferred to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...



Many of the directors and staff of GPA subsequently went on to work in other aircraft lessors, such as GECAS, Genesis Lease, CIT
-Educational institutions:*California Institute of Technology *Canberra Institute of Technology*Carnegie Institute of Technology, the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University...

, ILFC, Pembroke Capital, debis AirFinance (now AerCap), International Aircraft Management Group (now part of RBS), Babcock & Brown and Aircastle
Aircastle Limited is a company engaged in Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing.It has its headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, USA, with offices in Dublin and Singapore. Aircastle was established in early 2005 and now owns about 133 jet airliners, both narrow-body and wide-body types, which are...

. The availability of this cadre
En cadre
En cadre or cadre is a French expression originally denoting either the complement of commissioned officers of a regiment or the permanent skeleton establishment of a unit, around which the unit could be built if needed...

 of highly trained specialists in Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 is one of the principal reasons (along with a favourable corporate tax
Corporate tax
Many countries impose corporate tax or company tax on the income or capital of some types of legal entities. A similar tax may be imposed at state or lower levels. The taxes may also be referred to as income tax or capital tax. Entities treated as partnerships are generally not taxed at the...

 environment associated with the International Financial Services Centre
International Financial Services Centre
The International Financial Services Centre is a major financial services centre in North Wall, Dublin, Ireland. The centre employs 14,000 people and was the brainchild of an associate of businessman Dermot Desmond...

 in Dublin) why the country has become one of the worldwide centres of the commercial aircraft financing and leasing industry. One of the founders, Tony Ryan, went on to start his own airline, Ryanair
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Its head office is at Dublin Airport and its primary operational bases at Dublin Airport and London Stansted Airport....



During the Ethiopian famine
1984 - 1985 famine in Ethiopia
A widespread famine affected the inhabitants of today's Eritrea and Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. In northern Ethiopia, famine led to more than 400,000 deaths; over half this mortality can be attributed to human rights abuses that caused the famine to come earlier, strike harder, and extend further...

, GPA sponsored two airlift
Airlift is the act of transporting people or cargo from point to point using aircraft.Airlift may also refer to:*Airlift , a suction device for moving sand and silt underwater-See also:...

s of emergency supplies in October and November 1984. A number of other, mainly artistic endeavours, benefited from sponsorship by GPA that included the following, among others. In 1988 the first GPA Dublin International Piano Competition took place and was won by Philippe Cassard. In 1984 Robert Armstrong won the Guinness Peat Aviation Awards for Emerging Artists and in 1986 Eithne Jordan won during the show held in Dublin. One of the exhibitors was Vincent Killowry and in 1987 GPA bought most of the works at his first one man show in Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

. In 1989 John Banville
John Banville
John Banville is an Irish novelist and screenwriter.Banville's breakthrough novel The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the Guinness Peat Aviation award. His eighteenth novel, The Sea, won the Man Booker Prize in 2005. He was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize in 2011...

 received the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award for his novel The Book of Evidence, also shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Also in 1989 the Foynes
Foynes is a village and major port in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.-Foynes's role in aviation:...

 Flying Boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

 Museum, at its inception, was sponsored as the GPA Foynes Flying Boat Museum.

A statue of Daedalus
In Greek mythology, Daedalus was a skillful craftsman and artisan.-Family:...

, sculpted by John Behan
John Behan (sculptor)
John Behan is an Irish sculptor from Dublin.He helped establish the Project Arts Centre, Dublin in 1967 and the Dublin Art Foundry. Notable sculptures include "Arrival", commissioned by the Irish Government and presented to the UN in 2000 and "Wings of the World" in Shenzhen, China, 1991...

 was presented to the people of Ennis
Ennis is the county town of Clare in Ireland. Situated on the River Fergus, it lies north of Limerick and south of Galway. Its name is a shortening of the original ....

to mark the town's 750th anniversary in 1990.

External links

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