Aircraft leasing

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Boeing 737 from XL Airways Germany . The sticker on the rear indicates that the aircraft is temporarily leased by TUIfly

In aircraft leasing , an aircraft is made available for use in the form of leasing under various conditions . A distinction is made between dry lease ( dry rent ) and wet lease (roughly damp or wet rent ). One form of wet lease is Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance ( ACMI ).

Legal basis

All leasing contracts between airlines must be approved in advance by the competent authority, in Germany by the Federal Aviation Office . The leasing company must have an operating license for the respective aircraft category, the leasing company must have an Air Operator Certificate for the respective ICAO region .

Regulations in Germany

If a wet lease has been agreed between German airlines or an airline from the European Economic Area for a certain period, the lessor may not use it himself during this time; if there is an urgent operational need, the aircraft may be taken out of the lease for a maximum of 5 days. For short-term rentals of up to 30 days, a framework agreement can also be concluded, under which the rentals do not have to be individually approved by the Federal Aviation Office, but only have to be reported. Renting from third countries is only possible if there is an operational problem or to meet exceptional needs or seasonal demand. It must be proven that no EEA airline can provide the services, that the security standards are met and the rental is limited in time. In all cases, the renter may not sublet the aircraft.

In the case of a dry lease, the aircraft is included in the renter's Air Operator Certificate; corresponding agreements are only possible for German airlines with countries that have signed a corresponding bilateral agreement.

Dry lease

Dry lease (literally dry rent , in German descriptive cold rent ) refers to the rental of an aircraft without personnel, maintenance and insurance. The two largest providers are AerCap and GECAS .

Wet lease

Overview / basics

A Beechcraft 1900 in wet lease (ACMI) in the paintwork of the Binter Canarias . Only a small sticker below the cockpit side window indicates that the aircraft was rented by the Naysa to the Binter.

Wet lease (literally wet - or wet lease , descriptive in the German monthly rent ) refers to the rental of aircraft, including the cockpit - crew , cabin crew, maintenance and insurance by another airline.

A wet lease contract can be short-lived, for just a single flight, if the charter airline has a short-term bottleneck due to the failure of its own aircraft. However, it can also be a rental for several flights, because having your own aircraft means higher maintenance costs , or if your own aircraft fail due to upcoming maintenance work. Long-term agreements are often made if the renter wants to test a new destination or offer a seasonal route. In such cases, the aircraft is usually given the livery of the lessee.

Because of the mostly long-term rental contracts , the aircraft often flies in the design of the customer airline. The leasing ACMI airline will then provide the aircraft in the desired livery. Only a sticker on the aircraft then provides information about the ACMI airline as the owner (for example: "operated by Atlas Air"). However, there are also medium-term or only seasonal ACMI aircraft rentals that may then run over several years.

ACMI rental

The ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) mode is a variant of wet rental in which the operator of the aircraft provides it, including crew, maintenance and insurance. The lessee on the basis of an ACMI contract takes over the management of the aircraft - in the sense of selling the passenger capacity or the air freight services, advertising, route planning.

Payment is often made per block hour , whereby a certain occupancy is usually guaranteed by the tenant.

With the payment of the ACMI rental, the customer covers the expenses for the aircraft rental including the costs for the crew, the maintenance and the not insignificant aircraft insurance . The rental price does not include other costs for flight operations, such as: fuel costs, landing and parking fees, airport handling fees, freight insurance and freight handling fees.


Another advantage of wet leasing is that it is easier to use other types of aircraft. As a separate type rating is required for (almost) every type of aircraft and aircraft that are licensed in one country are often not allowed to be flown by pilots from other countries, the crew of the failed aircraft cannot simply carry out the flight with the unfamiliar machine .

The ACMI market allows airlines to expand their increasing demand for passenger or cargo capacities at short notice by renting additional aircraft or to react to seasonal fluctuations.

In extreme cases, an airline does not operate its own aircraft fleet, but operates its flights exclusively on an ACMI basis. Such airlines are called virtual airlines . By completely outsourcing flight operations, the virtual airline reduces its range of services . The virtual airline rents the aircraft, the flight crew and the technical expertise to operate the aircraft. So you can also say that the virtual airline rents an entire airline.

The aircraft rental company operates the ACMI business either only as a side business to rent out its spare aircraft capacities or as the main business without even having aircraft fly under its own name. Atlas Air is the world's largest ACMI airline with ACMI-based leasing as its primary business.


Even if leasing installments are not paid, aircraft rental companies often spend the aircraft they own out of the country ( confiscation ).

In the event of an already strained economic situation for the operator, this circumstance can lead to the complete collapse of flight operations within a very short time, since the machines actually intended for the further processing of numerous flights are missing and their failure can lead to further suddenly occurring and no longer controllable costs . It is often no longer possible to rent replacement machines soon before the insolvency occurs.

Current examples from recent years are Spanair in 2012, Malév in 2012 and Transaero in October 2015.


ACMI airlines are for example:

AMI rental

AMI stands for Aircraft, Maintenance, Insurance (German: aircraft, maintenance, insurance).

AMI is another variation of wet rental where no flight crew is rented to the customer. The customer therefore provides his own flight crew. Example: five-year ACMI contract with conversion option after one year on AMI and after another year on dry lease .

The leasing offer is often referred to as " wet lease aircraft on AMI or ACMI basis ". The landlords are often referred to as ACMI and AMI wet lease company .


  • Rüdiger Sterzenbach , Roland Conrady, Frank Fichert: Air traffic. Business instruction and manual. 4th fundamentally revised and expanded edition. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-58537-7 ( textbooks and handbooks on tourism, transport and leisure ).

Web links

  • Philipp Gallus: Forms of organization in the regional flight segment of network carriers . Josef Eul Verlag, Lohmar 2011, p. 101 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  • Aircraft Lease Definition., accessed September 15, 2014 .

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Leaflet of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt on leasing and code sharing (PDF) Luftfahrt-Bundesamt . September 30, 2016. Accessed February 1, 2019.