PARIS – Chinese aircraft lessor, CDB Aviation, announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 45 Airbus A320neo jets Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.

The order includes 30 A320neos and 15 A321neos, and CDB Aviation is also converting 15 Airbus A320neo orders from a previous buy to the A321neo, growing its A321neo order book to 30 frames in all.

Yesterday, CDB signed an MoU for 46 new 737 MAX aircraft (including 42 737 MAX 8s and 4 737 MAX 10s) and converted 6 existing 737 MAX 8 orders to the MAX 10.

“We are investing in the A320neo because we believe our customers will benefit from such an advanced aircraft. These aircraft will strengthen our overall aircraft portfolio and assist in the growth of our customer base,’’ said Peter Chang, CDB Aviation President & CEO. “Today, our leasing platform is based on a strong funding source, strong team with global reach.”

“It is a pleasure to expand our partnership with CDB Aviation. This is another endorsement from the lessor community for the NEO, and takes our NEO customer base well over 90,” said Airbus Commercial Aircraft Chief Operating Officer – Customers, John Leahy. “Our order book for the A320neo Family increases weekly and its 60 per cent market share is proof it is the single aisle aircraft of choice.”

CDB is one of the fastest growing aircraft lessors in the world, focused of course on its home market of China (the China Development Bank is an arm of the state). But it has customers all over the world, including Scandinavian Airlines System, to which it recently delivered its first A320neo.

The growing heft of Chinese lessors is an important growth story for Airbus and Boeing over the next couple of years as orders from existing airline customers die down.

Unlike much of the world, the Chinese market isn’t afraid of large capital outlays right now. In fact, China almost has the opposite problem in that it has plenty of liquidity that needs to access safe assets.

Aircraft are very much a safe asset in current global market conditions. And with Airbus and Boeing eager to sell planes after an order slowdown over the last two years, the Chinese lessors are likely to receive a discounted price for the MAX and neo.

The next step of development will be for these lessors to become bigger players in the widebody market. In that larger segment, the challenge will be finding useful delivery slots, as the 777X, 787 Dreamliner, A350, and even A330neo are all sold out until the early 2020s.

That mainly leaves the 747-8 and A380s as accessible, and even the Chinese aren’t so bullish as to believe in any real potential for those two very large aircraft (VLA).