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>> Even before the first nonstop transatlantic flight landed in Galway on Ireland's west coast, the country was already emerging as a nation of keen aviators, a lot to do, initially, with its location, linking Europe to the US. Ireland is home to 14 registered airlines, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, which is owned by parent company IAG.
Today, the industry is worth a massive 5 billion euros to the country's economy and employs up to 70,000 people, equivalent to 1.7% of GDP.>> We don't have the strengths that some of the larger economies have, so we have to offer a unique product. And our product is innovation, it's enterprise, and it's also the fact that we have a skills base here, that we can grow on, and we love it.
>> We're at a daily briefing at the Dublin headquarters of airline leasing firm, Avalon. It's the world's third largest airline leasing firm, now owned by China's HNA Group. They're keeping track of a fleet of 915 aircraft, that includes outstanding orders.>> Of a fleet of about 20,000, say, commercial airplanes flying around the world, almost half of those airplanes are leased, and more than half of those are leased from this country.
>> Nine of the top ten aircraft leasing firms are headquartered in Ireland, taking advantage of the country's low corporate tax rate, and also the vast network of double tax treaties. There are other challenges facing the current profitability in the whole airline sector though, not just in Ireland, but globally.
>> It's obviously driven as well by what geopolitical economic risks and the fuel go can go up, interest rates can go up.>> The global aviation industry is expected to double in the next 20 years, meaning more planes will be taking to the skies, insuring the Irish love affair with aviation continues well into the future.