Latin American bizav market continues slow, steady growth

 - February 2, 2007, 5:06 AM

Latin America’s business jet fleet has seen modest growth over the past 12 months, but it has still not achieved any substantial increase over the past decade. As of December 31 last year there were a total of 907 jet-powered business aircraft registered in 15 Latin American countries monitored by aviation consulting group Airclaims–up by slightly less than 5 percent from the 2003 total of 868.

At the end of 1994 there were actually more business jets– 954–registered in these countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. There have not been this many business jets on the registry since; for most of the next 10 years the annual tally was mostly in the 800s–a figure dwarfed by the fleets of North America and Europe, which account for the lion’s share of approximately 12,500 business jets worldwide. However, the fleet has shown steady growth since 1999.

The latest figures from Airclaims show that Mexico is still the region’s dominant business aviation nation with 467 of the jets–just over half the total. Brazil still holds the number-two spot with 255 aircraft. Next come Venezuela with 70 jets and Argentina with 50. None of the other countries have more than 20 business jets on their registers.

Latin American market share among business jet manufacturers has not changed radically over the past 12 months. Cessna is still the leader, with almost one-third of all registered aircraft. Next comes Bombardier, with 25.3 percent of the total. Raytheon has boosted its presence in the region, with a 15.3-percent share.

Largely due to a registered fleet of 75 out-of-production Sabreliners in Mexico, Rockwell/ Sabreliner hold a 9-percent share of the locally registered fleet. Dassault and Gulfstream follow with 65 and 54 jets, respectively.

Despite predictions last year that Latin America was poised for fleet renewal, the average age of business jets has actually increased, rising from 18.78 years at the end of 2003 to 20 years at the end of last year.

But some new bizjet blood has been coming into Latin America in the last few years. Bombardier has delivered Learjet 45XRs to customers in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The same countries have also received new Citation Excels, as well as Dassault Falcon 900EXs and 2000EXs. The registers of Guatemala and Panama now include Excels, and there is a new Gulfstream G550 in Mexico.

Jets aren’t the whole story of Latin American business aviation. Turboprop- and piston-powered aircraft are mainstream equipment throughout South and Central America. This is due partly to cost considerations and partly to the large number of airfields that are not able to accommodate jets.

According to UK publication Biz Turboprops, there are approximately 1,200 turboprops in civilian use in Latin America.