Preowned Market Still Moving, but Deals Are Slower

 - November 1, 2011, 9:00 AM

The specter of double-dip recession hasn’t dented an optimistic outlook at JetBrokers Europe as it marks the first anniversary of relocating to an office at the London-area Farnborough Airport. 

After reporting its strongest month to date for closing preowned business aircraft sales in July, the company, which is the European division of U.S.-based JetBrokers Inc., {Nigel: think we need to keep Inc. here as it differentiates JetBrokers Europe} saw a surge in new listings in August and September, especially for midsize jets.

However, JetBrokers Europe managing director Tim Barber acknowledged that deals are taking longer to close. Commonly, buyers and banks delay or back out of transactions due to last-minute disagreements over issues such as warranties and concerns over liens on the aircraft.

“These are complex transactions,” commented business development director Brendan Lodge. “Bridging the gulf in price [between the expectations of buyers and sellers] is the easy part, and that’s very hard.”

Between them, the JetBrokers teams on both sides of the Atlantic have more than 40 aircraft listed. Ten of these are with JetBrokers Europe, including a Challenger 604, a Hawker 800XP, a Premier IA, a Legacy and a GIII.

According to Barber, overall available inventory of aircraft remains fairly low–perhaps because prospective sellers are holding out for better prices. The company expects to add more super-midsize listings to its portfolio in the remaining weeks of 2011. Increasingly, JetBrokers Europe is persuading sellers to give it exclusive representation, which it argues is a more effective way to remarket aircraft.

There seems to be a mixed picture of the availability of bank funding for aircraft purchases. Jane Warner of independent financial advisor Trilogy told JetBrokers’s October 4 press briefing that “aircraft finance is no longer in intensive care.” In her view, banks are still willing to lend but they are more closely scrutinizing the ability of the borrower to service the debt and sometimes make loans conditional on clients bringing a wider portfolio of banking business to their door.

However, Alan Cunningham, an aviation attorney with London-based DLA Piper, indicated that concern over possible sovereign debt exposure at some European banks has restricted the flow of credit in recent weeks. “Fewer banks are interested [in financing aircraft] and the ones that are take longer to conduct negotiations,” he concluded.