Insight & News

Choosing a Banking Partner for Your Aviation Financing Needs

Aviation-related businesses face unique banking challenges due to the large amount of capital involved, potential liability issues, maintenance costs, regulations, and complex ownership structures. Those on the ground operations side of the aviation business are tasked with securing funding for infrastructure and technology upgrades that create efficiencies and meet modern safety guidelines. Private planes, hangars and charter services are in high demand by successful companies and high-net-worth individuals, underscoring the need for tailored financing options. Meanwhile, airports are increasingly focused on sustainability and in need of loans that fund the progress of eco-friendly projects and modernization initiatives. 

Finding a banking partner that understands these challenges across the many facets of aviation – from air to ground operations – can feel impossible. Too often, banks or investors lack the detailed knowledge of aviation financing, regulations, and trends to offer any real value. Many are simply eager to get through one transaction and on to the next. 

When seeking finance and banking solutions for an aviation venture, it is beneficial to find a relationship banker who understands your business and is committed to your success as much as its own. It’s best to look for a banking partner that offers: 

Aviation Industry Expertise

Seek out a banking partner that is acutely familiar with the regulations and obligations of your industry, that knows how to avoid industry pitfalls, and that has a proven track record helping similar businesses achieve their financial goals. 

Many banks focus on aircraft financing, but few cast their net beyond that into the broader world of aviation. Businesses including airplane owners, charter operators, airports and others, are most successful with banking partners that specialize in a wide range of aviation finance offerings, including managing cash flow; financing FBOs, hangar construction and ground-based assets; financing charter operations including Part 135 aircraft; and structuring loans. 

“One of the key challenges we face in aviation is that it’s very difficult to find a lender with an in-depth understanding of our industry,” said Nick Martino, Vice President of Operations for CloudNine. “That is what makes Signature Bank so unique – I don’t have to explain aviation industry nuances, best practices or federal obligations. They know our space and we both value a successful relationship.” 

Customized Solutions for Your Needs 

Banking products and services should not be one-size-fits-all.  Whether it’s acquiring new aircraft, expanding fleet capabilities, or optimizing operational efficiencies, your bank’s financial solutions should align with the unique needs and goals of your business. For example, most banks formulaically finance aircraft, allowing the rate to drive the terms. Instead, look for a lender who is looking beyond the transaction, who gets to know you as a borrower, and who will tailor terms to fit your specific situation. Can they go beyond a quick, impersonal transaction and offer bespoke solutions to help you navigate this unique, high-stakes space? Boutique commercial banks can offer concierge-level service, meaning bankers are easily accessible and provide guidance and financing options that are customized to each client’s needs.

Efficient Processes and Solutions

Your time is valuable. You need a banking partner that offers streamlined processes, quick decision-making, responsive customer service, and innovative digital tools. Ensure your bank can align tailored financial products and services that expedite transactions, simplify cash management, and enhance liquidity with your aviation-specific needs and challenges. A mid-size bank offers efficiencies that can mean faster loan approvals, seamless payment processing, real-time access to account information, and proactive risk management support.

Industry Connections

Another asset to look for in an aviation banking partner is strong industry networks and relationships. A banker who is well-connected can provide clients with access to its own national network of contacts. It’s also beneficial if the bank belongs to industry organizations, such as the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the National Aircraft Finance Association (NAFA), and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). For instance, consider the advantages of negotiating and financing a hangar space at an airport where your banker has a personal contact or at the very least has a proven track record of financing similar projects.

The right banking partner can take your business to new heights
The aviation industry is complex, especially if you are involved with ground operations, including small non-commercial airports, hangars and FBOs. There are numerous subtleties and challenges to navigate, and it is critical to have a banker who understands the space and is experienced with taking on this role. With the right banking partner, the sky’s the limit.

About Signature Bank 

Signature Bank Chicago is focused exclusively on serving the needs of privately-owned businesses and their owners. It has expertise and products and services that focus on a variety of nationwide aviation financing needs including FBOs, aircraft, hangars and other ground-based assets, charter operators including Part 135 operators, and airport operators.  Learn more at or contact us for:

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