ADDING VALUE - Philip Stransky, Vice President of Sales & Relationship Management, Waypoint Leasing
In recognition of the opening of Waypoint Leasing’s new office in Hong Kong, we sat down again with Philip Stransky, Waypoint’s Vice President of Sales & Relationship Management, Asia Pacific, to find out more about the company’s plans in the region.
A pleasure to meet again Philip; could you please give our readers a brief introduction to Waypoint Leasing and how the last year has been for the company?
Of course. Waypoint Leasing was founded in 2013 by a team of helicopter industry veterans, most of whom had prior first-hand experience as helicopter operators. We believe this is a great competitive advantage, as it allows us to approach and manage each customer from the perspective of the operator and the end-user. Our senior management team leverages decades of experience in leasing and long-standing relationships with service providers to deliver unique insights and innovative financing solutions to our clients, helping them meet their fleet management and financing needs.
Since the beginning of 2016, Waypoint has added over 35 aircraft to its fleet, the majority of which were placed with customers in 2017. This success is representative of our team’s strong relationship with our customers and deep technical background.
In Asia Pacific, Waypoint had a fantastic year, including a lease transaction that led to the introduction of two Leonardo AW169 helicopters to a new customer in Taiwan. In Papa New Guinea, we have continued to develop our relationship with one of our long-term customers, who is now successfully operating the first Airbus H145 in the country. In China, we delivered the first H135T3 into the country to a customer involved in emergency medical services. An additional accomplishment, Waypoint was honoured as the recipient of the Structured Innovation Award at the 6th China Air Finance Development (DFTP) Summit in 2017. The award recognizes Waypoint’s establishment of a leasing platform in Tianjin Free Trade Zone.
I see you will be relocating your office to Hong Kong? What was the rationale behind this decision?
Waypoint always had plans to open a more centrally-located office in Asia, with the intent to provide our current and future customers a greater degree of service from a closer base. Hong Kong is centrally located in the region and serves as a gateway to the rest of Asia, making it an ideal location. Exciting developments in China also factored into our decision and each member of the new Hong Kong team is currently in the process of learning Mandarin.
In Hong Kong, the sales and relationship management efforts in the Asia Pacific region will have a great support team of functional leads with technical, legal, and commercial backgrounds, allowing us to independently structure deals with support from central offices in Ireland and the US. We believe having a dedicated team at our customers’ disposal represents a tremendous benefit by allowing us to have more time directly with our customers thinking strategically with them to support growth.
What is your outlook for the helicopter leasing market?
I believe that it makes more strategic sense for operators to lease helicopters now than it ever has before. While most operators will probably have a mix of owned and leased assets, leasing creates operational and balance sheet flexibility that has advantages. Operationally, our customers can bid aircraft on contracts without first needing to take speculative order positions and associated significant capital deposits. From a financial perspective, leasing gives operators the flexibility to return an aircraft after lease end, or extend based on contract requirements and other fleet needs. Lessors ultimately add value by being able to alleviate market risk through repurposing and remarketing assets globally for their greatest and best use.
A particularly interesting area of interest for the market is the budding offshore wind farm industry, where wind farm operators and national authorities are still in the process of crafting and implementing regulations. Additionally, throughout Asia, we expect that as more and more countries develop their national helicopter emergency medical services, local operators will be vying to pick up this work, requiring aircraft on order from lessors like Waypoint.
All in all, I have an optimistic outlook on the industry – both for helicopter operators and leasing companies – and I am thrilled to have a local team in region to help better serve our customers. At Waypoint, we pride ourselves on putting operators first, and are well positioned to support our current and future customers in this is important region.