The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region is home to more than 5,000 business aircraft–2,457 jets 2,588 turboprops–according to current data from aviation data services firm JetNet. This represents 14.8 percent of the world’s fixed-wing business turbine fleet, despite the region’s 6.6-percent share of world gross domestic product (GDP).
“The LAC business jet fleet growth and LAC GDP growth have been essentially expanding in tandem over the last 10 years, averaging about a 3.9-percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR)–faster than North America,” said Rolland Vincent Associates president Rolland Vincent. “The 50/50 balance between business jets and turboprops in the LAC fleet is in contrast to the worldwide jet/turboprop mix outside the region, which favors business jets by 1.5:1.”
At 851 and 824 business jets, respectively, Mexico and Brazil now have the second- and third-largest business aircraft fleets in the world after the U.S., which has a staggering fleet of 11,915 business jets. However, Brazil is now on a “trajectory” to overtake Mexico within the next year or so, Vincent said.
While Mexico has long been a predominantly pre-owned aircraft market, he noted that this is changing with the rising fortunes of Mexican high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and “significant” foreign direct investment.
Brazil’s business aircraft fleet expansion has been helped by the rising prominence of “homegrown” Embraer, Vincent said. “The fastest-growing OEM, Embraer has established a particularly strong base and loyal following amongst LAC aircraft owners and operators, growing its fleet by 16.5-percent CAGR worldwide since 2008, and capturing more than 7-percent share of the LAC business jet fleet as of mid‐2014.”
On a broader regional level, business jet fleet growth is set to continue thanks in large part to the fact that there are approximately 542,000 HNWIs–those with those with investable assets of $ 1 million or more–in Latin America and Caribbean, according to research from the CapGemini RBC World Wealth Report 2014. About 76 percent of the HNWIs in the LAC region live in just three countries: Brazil, 172,000 people; Mexico, 130,000; and Argentina, 109,000.
According to Vincent, the LAC region already has the highest concentration of business jets at 4.52 per 1000 HNWIs, well ahead of North America (2.87) and more than three times the world average of 1.44. “This reflects a number of factors that have favored LAC business aviation, including limited commercial air service, high concentrations of wealth ($14 million per HNWI, the highest of any world region), vast geographies, limited infrastructure, and an air-minded culture,” he explained.
Vincent said the Latin American and Caribbean region is an important replacement market and an “attractive” step-up market for larger business jets. This is because the average business jet fleet age is about 19 years old (three years older than the world fleet average) and that 54 percent of the fleet is in the very light and light jet segments, compared with an average of 41 percent worldwide.