NBAA Convention News

Pre-owned aircraft

 - September 20, 2007, 12:02 PM

It has been an extraordinary year in the pre-owned business jet sales arena. Offers coming in above what some considered unrealistically high prices represented the norm, with sellers often bailing out of deals for fear they would find no suitable replacement aircraft. An unprecedented period of super-heated activity in the last 12 months was bolstered by lengthy backlogs for new aircraft. Buyers who placed orders for airplanes that won’t be delivered until 2010 or beyond often bought used aircraft for interim lift. Somehow placing an order for a new $40- to $45 million business jet made buying a used one at $20 million or so seem like a deal. As a result, inventory earlier this month was the lowest for any September in the last seven years.

So far the market has shown no signs of slowing down. Inventory levels are about where they began the year, which essentially can be defined as a normal cycle, with the typical spring reduction of inventory followed by the corresponding slow summer build up and now entering historically one of the most active times of the year.

Demand for large-cabin airplanes has remained strong throughout the year. For instance, a year ago there were 22 GIV-SPs for sale. Today there are five, and one of those has a sale pending. Consequently, the average asking price is approaching $29 million. The predecessor GIV stood at nearly 30 for sale a year ago and since then has averaged 23. Currently, however, just nine are available with two sales pending.
This has moved average pricing to nearly $19 million, though this may prove to be artificially high based on some asking prices that appear designed not to sell the aircraft, though in this market no one can be sure.

As for the GV, it has been perennially active, with the average asking price hovering around $40 million and supply keeping pace with its 12-month average of five out of a fleet of nearly 200. As for the current-production Gulfstreams, from the G300 to G550, there are only six available for sale out of more than 250 in operation.

The story is much the same with Bombardier products. There are only a handful of Global Expresses available, with pricing in the $40 million range. They are disappearing nearly as fast as they arrive, changing hands in fewer than two months on average. The Challenger 604 is matching its low-water mark for the past year, with 17 currently for sale after touching a high of 25 a few months ago. Pricing begins around $17 million and climbs into the upper $20 million range. The average turn time is about six-and-a-half months. There are only a few 605s currently in service, and one of them has a sale pending with a posted asking price just a tick above $30 million.

Eight Falcon 900EXs are for sale right now, up from just two a year ago and twice the 12-month moving average, perhaps due to the 7X’s arrival. At current levels, the market offerings represent fewer than 5 percent of the fleet.

The Falcon 50EX, after a period of nearly five months with virtual stagnation late last year and into January of this year, regained traction in the marketplace, tightening supply from six to two. With 101 in operation, the 12-month high of six was low in terms of percentage; it’s just that much lower now. Consequently, asking prices above $17 million now seem more achievable.

There are 10 Falcon 900Bs for sale currently, but none of the 25 “C” models are for sale. Pricing on the Falcon 900Bs runs from about $16 million to $25 million. The market for the earlier Falcon 50 has softened slightly; after reaching a 12-month low of 22, supply has ratcheted back up to 29.

Super-midsize Market Hot

Super-midsize activity continues to be super heated, with the G200 right on its eight-month average of eight, which–considering that the fleet has grown to 159–represents 5-percent availability. Pricing among this group ranges from the $13 million area to just under $20 million.

Bombardier’s Challenger 300 is capturing sizable seven-figure premiums for soon-to-deliver positions, which often carry asking prices in and around the $24 million range. A pair of the much–sought after Challenger 300s are for sale touting asking prices on either side of $24 million. One has a sale pending after being on the market fewer than 30 days. There are also three delivery positions currently being offered.

Robust action on the Falcon line continues unabated, with seven Falcon 2000s and one Falcon 2000EX for sale. The owner of the latter will sell only if a buyer agrees to the lofty price.

In the midsize segment, Learjet 60s stood at 41 a year ago and are now at 29, or fewer than 10 percent of the more than 300 currently in operation. The pricing spreads from just over $5.5 million for an early model up to $12.4 million for a 2006 model. As for the Learjet 45, it has had a surge of late with nearly one third of the 21 used offerings under contract with buyers. Prices for the straight 45s run from a tick under $6 million to $8.5 million. XR models start at $9.9 million and range to $10.9 million. More than 30 Hawker 800XPs fill the market, but a handful are listed as “sale pending.” The 800XPs have held stable in the narrow band between 27 and 34 for the past 12 months, with prices running from $7 million to $11 million.
Light Jets Impress

On a lighter note, the CJ2 and CJ3 continue to sell extremely well, with inventory of the CJ2 nearly exhausted. The CJ2 made an impressive turnaround in the market after ballooning to an all-time inventory high near 30 before turning tail and settling at the current level of 10. Prices currently run from $4.8 million for a 2,000-hour, single-digit serial number 2000 model to $5.8 million for a triple-digit serial number 2005 model with fewer than 1,000 hours.

The CJ3 is one of the few light jets that hasn’t been overshadowed by all the hullabaloo in the large-cabin arena. The apparent darling of the owner-flown contingent–the light jet–has captivated buyer interest, lofting prices into the $7 million range and now testing the low-$8 millions for a just-delivered 2007 model.
Pre-owned Premier Is and IAs are starting to show up in greater numbers lately, with 22 now available for sale, higher than the 12-month moving average of 13. Prices on the earlier variant run between $4.3 million and $4.8 million. The Premier IA lists prices in the mid- to upper-$5 million range.

As the VLJ segment begins to spread its wings, we see 17 Eclipse 500s for sale, with a few already in service, some on short final to delivery and other positions coming down the pike. Generally, posted pricing seems to be falling in the $1.6 million to $1.7 million area, but most carry a “make offer.” Right now only two Cessna Mustang positions are posted for sale.

Market prices have skyrocketed in many cases this year, change from last year, when the market slowed heading into the fourth quarter. As markets filled with inventory last year, prices adjusted downward and buyers stepped in with vigor, driving down the number of choices and increasing prices. Now there’s a sense that values have peaked, but activity remains high. As usual, there seems to be no shortage of catalysts that could take the market down a few pegs, but for now the market looks poised to maintain the momentum unleashed at the beginning of the year.