The eye-popping total of 2,750 pre-owned aircraft for sale today is a lot based on historical standards, but it is well below the peak reached a little more than a year ago. The broker community and OEMs monitor the total number of aircraft for sale because it is an important measurement on which to gauge the health of the used aircraft market, but when you scratch beneath the surface you realize that the sky is not falling.
“Elevated used inventory, attractive used pricing and macro uncertainty continue to hold down demand for new business jets,” JPMorgan Equity Research said in its latest business jet monthly report.
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.
While a year ago it seemed as if buyers were beginning to emerge from harsh winter hibernation, in fact inventory was still a few months away from reaching its all-time peak. At the same juncture this year, we find inventory a couple of hundred aircraft below its 12-month moving average, yet still a couple of hundred above the pre-Lehman collapse figure.
Under new president Michael Scheeringa, who took over from Bruce Van Allen early this year, Signature Flight Support has changed its approach to the FBO market. With 102 FBOs worldwide (81 wholly owned), Signature was perceived as inflexible when it came to pricing fuel and in the way it charged ramp fees.
Surveyors of used aircraft entered the year with little else to do but cross fingers and hope that the market plunge brought to the doorstep of the New Year would abate. Buyers slowly began to perceive value as prices fell 30 to 50 percent from their previous lofty perches. It seemed that the press–which had for several months filleted business jet ownership–had run out of negative things to say.
Used aircraft prices have gone parabolic since last year, first launching to lofty heights only to arc back down to earth. While the drop began just before last year’s NBAA Convention, at the show aircraft purveyors had that deer-in-the-headlights look as they shook their heads in disbelief as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,000 points during the three-day event, punctuating the beginning of a year-long correction in pricing.
Despite some modest improvement last month, demand in the North American executive charter market is still relatively soft, according to the latest data from Web-based portal Avinode.
The good news is that the bad news seems to have subsided for the time being and business aviation’s recent negative publicity served to make aircraft that much more affordable.
Recent data from Web-based executive charter portal Avinode shows mixed fortunes for charter operators worldwide, but there is no avoiding the overall picture that market conditions are still difficult even during what are generally the busiest months of the year. Avinode’s demand index on September 1 stood at 61.29–16.5 percent down on the 73.46 figure for August 1 and 29.5 percent down on the 86.96 logged on July 1.