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.
Using the stage at Oshkosh to make several product announcements, Avidyne introduced a lower-priced version of its next-gen flight management system called the FMS400 and rolled out three pricing levels for the Release 9 version of its Entegra integrated avionics system.
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.
XOJet launched a national network of “fare on-demand” rates for aircraft charter service starting at $12,000 on more than 15,000 dedicated routes. According to XOJet, its new fixed-price program eliminates the need for buyers to compare complicated quotes or negotiate with multiple providers. XOJet operates a fleet of Citation Xs and earlier this year launched fixed-price coast-to-coast charter service.
After a grueling quarter of massive price destruction, a wave of opportunistic buyers has begun to surface and infiltrate the pre-owned jet market. The current economic environment coupled with the public flogging of private jets and their owners has created a sea of discounted jets in all shapes and sizes. There is a growing perception by many that now is the time to buy.