AINsight: Did We Get Caught Flatfooted?

 - September 3, 2021, 10:14 AM

We as a collective industry have been working to get our messaging right to understand the unprecedented activity currently in preowned business aircraft markets. Are aircraft prices going up or were they just flattening out? Was inventory really shrinking before our eyes to record lows or was it just right-sizing based on a new demand ratio?

We are experiencing a supply versus demand ratio like we have possibly never seen. During the emerging market phenomenon that lasted from 2003 through 2008, the supply of business aircraft inventory was also stressed. However, the biggest difference between then and now was that, in the emerging markets, buyers wanted only new or like-new aircraft. The smaller, older airplanes did not fall into that stress.

The mantra we have been using at our company for the past six months is when you come in as a buyer, you must be patient. Of course, we might find an airplane in two days, but it also might take 90 days or more. Patience is a virtue.

I am always assured by my clients that they can wait. Then on about week two of the hunt, there seems to be a crack in the veneer of their patience.

The difference today is we will not see multiple airplanes for sale on websites or in magazines. They will trickle out one at a time and sell in days—in most cases for the asking price.

How should we feel about that? I guess it is time to be OK with this frenzied pace.

What is critical is that you do not get swept up in the pace and be allowed to miss critical due diligence. There is no way that anyone should buy an airplane without a comprehensive pre-buy inspection, accept weak or missing records, and/or not have a proper purchase agreement. As my good friend Zig Ziglar would say, “Price is a one-time thing, cost is a lifetime thing.”

Remember, this is not the Wild West even though it might seem like it. This is just a pandemic reality of the largest-ever number of first-time buyers coming into our market space.

How does one best protect themselves when entering this market? Use common sense. If it seems too perfect, it just might be. If you are feeling pushed, you might just be.

Aircraft transactions are expensive, so it’s important to do them correctly the first time. Make sure you are well represented and that whoever represents you can build a transaction with all the purchase tools needed to make good choices, including mission profile modeling, budgeting work, and pre-buy inspection protocols.

Each and every part of a complex 360-degree process must be well thought out. Do not be afraid to get in this ownership process, but do be afraid to get in without smart help.

Jay Mesinger is the CEO and founder of Mesinger Jet Sales, an international aircraft brokerage firm. With 47 years of successfully buying and selling aircraft, Mesinger Jet Sales has a global reputation for personalized, transparent service.