Authorities in China, as well as privately-owned global lessors, are evaluating ways and means to help the country's embattled carriers survive the fallout from the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic.

Air Lease Corporation said it was contemplating various initiatives that could, at the same time, provide additional cash to airlines in China, some of which have requested assistance, while at the same time helping carriers elsewhere affected by the B737 MAX grounding.

"We are making outright cash aircraft purchase offers, as well as offering sale-leaseback transactions, which will provide our customers cash and positively contribute to ALC's growth this year. Furthermore, the purchase of selected aircraft could also help our MAX customers who are struggling to find summer lift in the face of still uncertain MAX delivery timing," Chief Executive John Plueger said during a quarterly investors call.

He added that the lessor would undertake "some temporary lease payment deferrals as happens in these types of situations".

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, Air Lease Corporation leases 66 aircraft to 10 airlines in mainland China, as well as one unit each to Cathay Pacific and Air Macau. The lessor manages fifteen B737-8s, which are leased to Cayman Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Oman Air, S7 Airlines, Smartwings (Czechia), and Sunwing Airlines.

Domhnal Slattery, the Chief Executive at Avolon, said that the lessor was prepared to spend up to USD6 billion through sale/leaseback transactions with Chinese airlines. The lessor manages 68 aircraft operated by 18 carriers in mainland China, 11 aircraft operated by three airlines in Hong Kong, and one A320 leased to Air Macao.

Meanwhile, AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly said during an investor call that the lessor remains committed to working with both Chinese airlines and the authorities.

"[The epidemic] is affecting our Chinese customers, their staff, families, and our own employees in China, and our thoughts are with those who are suffering from the impact of the coronavirus. These airlines have been our partners for decades, and they will be our partners for decades to come. We will help them where we can through this very challenging period," he said.

He added that the lessor would "probably defer some rents [for Chinese airlines] given that their revenue line has obviously fallen significantly".

AerCap's portfolio in China includes 151 aircraft leased to 22 airlines. The lessor also owns two A321s leased to Air Macau and 12 aircraft leased to three airlines in Hong Kong.

As of February 12, 2020, ch-aviation analysis shows 1,215 out of the 4,145 tracked aircraft operated in China to have been grounded, mostly due to wide-ranging network cuts caused by the epidemic and its resulting travel restrictions.

As recently reported, unnamed officials told Bloomberg that the Chinese government is looking at means to assist the industry by either providing cash bailouts to airlines or enforcing consolidation in the market. Discussions are ongoing and have not been confirmed officially.

According to International Air Traffic Association (IATA) estimates, the outbreak of Covid-19 could depress demand in the Asia-Pacific region by 13% in 2020, leading to USD27.8 billion in lost revenue for airlines from the region. Carriers from other parts of the world are forecast to lose USD1.5 billion in revenue.