Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter financial report notes that revenues at its NetJets subsidiary grew by 18 percent year-over-year, generating positive pre-tax earnings of $57 million versus a pre-tax loss of $96 million in the same period last year.
Despite teetering over the abyss of economic collapse and having to overcome negative public perception surrounding corporate jet ownership, the used aircraft market has battled back, slowly and perhaps surprisingly consistently, chipping away at a glutted market. Month after month since late 2008, buyers have stepped into the market and pared back the numbers to arrive at the lowest inventory level in a year-and-a-half.
UBS Investment Research’s May business jet index came in at 50, indicative of a stable market and in line with its previous two surveys in January and March. “This recent plateau follows increases in our index over our prior eight surveys, going back to late 2008,” UBS said.
Barely two years ago prospective business aircraft buyers in Europe were among the most sought-after clients for a banking industry attracted both to the high rates of growth in this market sector and to the exceptional strength of asset values, driven largely by soaring demand and long delivery backlogs.
The February 6 collapse of the Dulles Jet Center roof under a heavy blanket of snow– and the estimated $300 million worth of corporate jets damaged or destroyed in the event–has raised questions about insurance liability.
Private-equity firm Carlyle is reportedly seeking a buyer for aviation communications services company Arinc in a sale that could command as much as $1 billion. Carlyle acquired Arinc in July 2007.
While UBS Investment Research’s March business jet index reflects a stable market, other indictors showed that the business aviation market recovery has stalled a bit. According to a market report released yesterday by the investment firm, pre-owned business jet inventories were roughly unchanged in February, following declines in each of the prior six months.
Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Aabar Investments is investing a further $20 million in charter provider XOJet. The move came just four months after XOJet secured $470 million in additional funding from a group led by TPG, a Fort Worth-based private equity firm, and Aabar. Meanwhile, Aabar and XOjet said they plan to form a joint venture in the UAE to provide aviation services in the Middle East and North Africa.
The new Central Europe Private Aviation Association (Cepa) will hold its inaugural conference in the Czech capital Prague on April 22 and 23. The group has been formed to represent and coordinate the interests of business aviation companies in new European Union states, including the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia.
According to UBS Investment Research’s latest business jet update, flight activity in November was roughly unchanged from the same period in 2008, stemming the year-over-year declines seen in each of the previous 24 months. On a seasonally adjusted basis, cycles were roughly 1 percent higher from October and are now 18 percent above their March low, though still 23 percent below the 2007 peak.