The annual NBAA convention routinely serves as an appropriate time to reflect on activity in the pre-owned market for both light jets and single-engine turboprops. As we look back at the year that has passed, it’s fair to say that while these markets have not set any blistering records, some calm is in the air.
When the financial crisis that exploded in late 2008 began to ravage Western economies in 2009 and 2010, the business aviation industry took well founded comfort from the fact that escalating demand from emerging markets farther east seemed to be shoring up otherwise sagging demand in traditional markets.
Business aviation analyst Brian Foley believes that deliveries will trend modestly upward, though he cautioned that this “projection assumes that the economy and buyer confidence in general will gradually strengthen. Both are necessary catalysts for sales.
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.
As used aircraft values got pummeled over the last few quarters, it seemed that the buyers had all but disappeared. They hadn’t. Now that the inventory of most model types is at unprecedented highs and prices are at unprecedented lows, buyers are reemerging in more noticeable numbers and scoring big time on CJs to G550s, often executing a trade some 30- to 50-percent below the prices accepted at this time last year.
The flow of used aircraft to the market is slowing fairly dramatically, and some may wonder if that’s because all the aircraft for sale are already on the market. It might seem that way to some, but the more than 3,000 aircraft for sale right now–while not an insignificant number–represent only a fraction of the more than 16,500 jets currently in operation.
The standoff between buyers and sellers over the last six months is beginning to show some wear. It seems that sellers had been concentrating on where prices were six months ago, as buyers were predicting where they would be six months forward. The dichotomy in perspectives aided in slowing transactions to a crawl.