What is an Aircraft Lease?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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An aircraft lease is a contract allowing a person or company use of an airplane for a set period of time, in exchange for a fee. Airlines and charter companies may take advantage of leasing to keep their fleets flexible or provide temporary coverage. Individual pilots can also lease aircraft if they do not want the expense of purchasing and maintaining an aircraft for their use. Some airfields have cooperative leasing agreements allowing several pilots to share a plane, splitting expenses and setting up a shared access schedule.

There are two kinds of aircraft lease, wet and dry. A wet lease includes not just the aircraft, but also ground and flight crew, maintenance, and insurance. Dry leases offer the aircraft only, requiring people to furnish their own crews, maintain the aircraft, carry insurance, and so forth. People may have varying needs and can sometimes switch between lease types as their situations change.

People seeking an aircraft lease have a number of large and small companies to choose from, including some airlines making planes in their fleet available for lease. Rates can vary, and it is advisable to compare and contrast several different plans, considering issues like the length of the lease and any restrictions. For example, a company may only allow its aircraft to be flown domestically. Reviews of different leasing companies are available to allow people to investigate their services and get information on them from the perspective of customers.


The aircraft lease allows people to use an aircraft without having to make the substantial investment involved in actually buying it. Leasing companies may allow people to apply their own livery, especially in a long-term lease, allowing airlines to fly leased planes under their own branding. This can give carriers a chance to try out new kinds of aircraft before committing to a purchase and may make aircraft temporarily available for increased coverage while airlines upgrade and overhaul their fleets.

Pilots can take advantage of an aircraft lease to have access to planes they might not be able to operate on their own. People like charter pilots may want to offer longer range flights and more services, but would find it impossible to afford the aircraft necessary for these kinds of services. A lease can allow pilots to expand operations without breaking the bank, especially if pilots only have intermittent need and can share a lease, rather than being the sole person on the contract.


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