Renting Out the Friendly Skies

Airplane brokers are providing carriers with returnable fleets

Nobody has ever become a frequent flyer by booking a seat on GPA. For that matter, no passenger has ever eaten a meal served by a GPA flight attendant or checked a bag with the company. Yet Shannon, Ireland-based GPA, formerly known as Guinness Peat Aviation, owns one of the world's largest commercial passenger jet fleets. Instead of flying its planes, which will soon number 187, GPA leases them to some 25 airlines, including Pan American, Qantas and People Express. For cash-strapped carriers, renting a Boeing 737, even at $240,000 a month, is often more affordable than spending $28 million to...

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