As a former professional drag racer and a Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, Kalitta Air’s founder and CEO Connie Kalitta valued both speed and safety. Kalitta Air’s record of safety and efficiency helped make it the carrier of choice to bring mail to U.S. troops in the Middle East.
In 2006, Kalitta was looking to improve its efficiency and grow its global reach by upgrading its fleet. Kalitta was in the market for two 747-400s, and the capital needed for these 2 airplanes was significant, so Connie Kalitta looked for a source of finance. “The technological advances of the 747-400 BCF include significantly greater range and fuel efficiency over earlier model Boeing freighters, making it an ideal aircraft for our global network,” said Connie Kalitta.
"GE's experience and speed were key in expanding our fleet."
GE Capital's strategy
When Kalitta asked GE Capital Aviation Services' Chris Damianos if he had interest in financing the two 747s, Chris was ready to spring into action. Chris has more than 25 years of experience in aviation, and 13 years at GE Capital, where he specializes in financing cargo operators and regional jets. Chris also brought in PK AirFinance, GECAS’s debt experts, to help structure the transaction.
Chris, along with Richard Giles at PK AirFinance, a GECAS subsidiary, were able to offer Kalitta financing on attractive terms because of their understanding of the aircraft they were financing and GECAS’s knowledge of the air cargo business. “Our team’s experience in the industry allowed us to dive into the deal and really understand the Kalitta business model—we understood how they operate and what was important to them,” said Damianos.
With GE Capital financing, Kalitta has soared to new heights. The business has been able to expand its long-range scheduled services, becoming a leading player in U.S.-Asia freight routes.