Pre-Owned Update: Market Stabilizes as Inventory Recedes from High Tide

 - March 16, 2007, 9:34 AM

Buyers continued to roll up their sleeves and involve themselves with the used aircraft market, driving down further what has been for the last few years a vast supply inventory. The 10-percent depletion in used aircraft inventory over the last 13 months has taken a step toward assuaging the doubts of many left shell-shocked by nearly three years of market malaise. Though the past six months have been robust, some seek further proof that a full-fledged recovery can be sustained.

The GV inventory, which in 2002 ensured an average of 10 units for sale throughout the year, dropped 50 percent last year and averaged five during the past 12 months. Right now there are four listed by JetNet, and one has a sale pending and one is for lease only. Recently transactions on the lowest and the highest available serial numbers seemed to bracket the market between $27 million and $32 million, though the later model traded below market price after selling through a sealed bid process–so it could therefore be argued that this sale is not representative of the actual market values.

Regardless, the heat in the GV market has temporarily extinguished the U.S. supply, with the remaining two options based in Canada and the UK. With

the recent absence of downward GV price pressure, the GIV-SP market too has snapped back, from 23 available 14 months ago to nine today, representing about 3-percent availability based on the 286 produced. This tightening market is in no small part the result of the severe price reductions that have taken place on some early GIV-SPs, which in some instances have traded below $17 million.

All eyes are now being cast on the GIV market, which is waiting for a similar tightening of supply. At 27 GIVs for sale it sits just slightly below the 12-month inventory high of 30 units reached and held throughout all of last year’s first quarter.

The market is littered with GIVs priced in the $13 million area, and reportedly a number have been picked up below that level. Current asking prices can run up into the higher teens for late serial numbers.

Also in the large category, the Challenger 604 has ratcheted down from 20 units eight months ago to 15 today; and the Falcon 900B is just slightly higher in supply than last year at this time, with 23 versus 20. Another laggard is the Challenger 601-3A, with more than 14 percent of its available stock for sale. That’s five units below where it stood just a few months ago, before some end-of-the-year buying took place, but on par with the year-ago level.

Exhibiting surprising strength in the midsize class is the Astra SPX, now marketed by Gulfstream as the G100, which has trimmed its choices from 11 last February to four at present. Asking prices run from the mid-$6 millions to just over $9 million for one of the last SPXs. Technically there’s a distinction between the SPX and G100, but the term often is used interchangeably to describe the IAI 1125 series aircraft. Gulfstream Aerospace’s involvement brought about the G100 renaming in 2001, which begins with S/N 1125-0137.

Another midsize mover is the Hawker 800XP, which has been churning its numbers down recently to 23 from a 12-month high of 29 for sale last summer. While that’s not a big swing, another four sales are pending, which could bring it back to the lowest supply level in a year-and-a-half, to less than 5-percent availability.

Similarly, its predecessor–the 800–has begun to see its ranks tighten after rising to levels not seen since shortly after 9/11. Last June there were 41 available, but it has since retraced to 29, which still represents a bloated 12-percent supply, based on the 286-airplane production run.

On the lighter side, Falcon 10s have powered back to about 30 airplanes available after reaching 40 just six months ago. That’s still a ton of 10s–18-percent availability based on the 169 currently in service–but a far cry from the peak of nearly 50 pelting the market back in summer 2001. A number of the Falcon 10s for sale tout seductive pricing in the low and even sub-million area and can run up near $2 million.

Beechjet 400As have made an even more impressive recovery, going from 51 available five months ago down to 31 today, or from nearly 15-percent availability down to less than nine. Pricing runs from less than $2 million for one of the earliest offerings closing in on overhauls to nearly $5 million for one of the newest choices.

The CJ supply is down about 20 units as well, but it has taken a little more than a year to achieve this. Prices have firmed and trading occurs from about the $1.8 million area up to $2.4 million. Even the CJ1s have followed suit, dipping from 21 down to 15 during the last 10 months. Pricing in this group picks up around $2.7 million and runs into the $3 millions.

Last year certainly finished on a high note–it was the first in six to offer fewer aircraft at year’s end than at the beginning. The heightened activity, most of which kicked in during the second half of the year, seems poised to continue as many of the catalysts needed to spur sales–largely low prices coupled with low interest rates–remain in place. The out-of-the-gate view for this year is one of optimism, and contributing to the upbeat attitude are a couple of factors that were not in place early last year: more stable pricing taking hold among many models and the perception that election-year politics will keep the economy on the right course.