AINsight: Just Say No

 - April 1, 2022, 11:47 AM

On Wednesday, I had the privilege of hosting a webinar about whether the preowned business aircraft market would have a hard or soft landing, as well as when that might occur. We had a panel that included an all-star aviation banker, a top-notch aircraft appraiser, and my sons Josh and Adam.

We discussed the current market and its imbalance with respect to many industry segments, including pilot, hangar, maintenance slot, and aircraft inventory shortages. Then we went into the quickly rising purchase prices for preowned aircraft.

It was agreed that prices have been rising every bit of 10 percent a month for the last four months. Not to mention the preceding 12 months not having had any of the usual annual depreciation to the equipment, which is typically around 10 percent per year.

The next topic shifted to the process that has been changing along the back of these escalating prices, including sellers not being willing to allow any pre-buy inspection or very limited if allowed. We all concurred that our industry is dynamic and not static, so a shift always comes.

But when the pendulum begins to swing in the other direction, will it be a soft or hard landing? I have always felt that a hard landing would occur if we went into a global or even domestic recession, but some on the panel believe that a domestic recession and some inflationary pressure may be baked in for some or many of the new entrants to the market and would not result in such a dramatic shift.

The consensus was that a hard landing would most likely come from a geopolitical event causing major implications to world order, and I am sure everyone’s eyes are open enough to see what is happening in Ukraine. As one panelist stated, one misguided missile strike into a neighboring country could change immediately the dynamic of what is already a catastrophic set of events. We are all hopeful for de-escalation and a negotiated settlement to the current crisis.

The soft landing, which we renamed as resilient landing during the webinar, will occur if demand remains high and the economy remains good. In this case, a slow and steady increase in supply would mean we’d see and feel an easing in pricing without any huge drops in value. The pendulum would shift back to a more balanced market. That set of events and outcomes would be sustainable and allow for a measured growth rather than a complete drop-off of values and business activity for our industry.

But what can we do while we are all in this market frenzy to start to control our current destiny and preserve the industry? Perhaps we could collectively begin to “just say no.” No to processes that we know are not smart, no to demands placed on buyers by bad actors that are driving bad decisions to be made in the buying process, and no to rapidly increasing outlandish pricing.

I know I’m talking about a long-shot approach. But I wonder if we could get to a critical mass of us that just say no, we can smartly, properly, and correctly make some groundswell changes right now to our industry. If enough of us began to say no to disallowing pre-buys and no to the price being demanded, could we in fact move the needle?

The alternative to a continued set of these circumstances is that we as an industry are going to drive buyers to sit on the fence and wait. That would bring preowned transactions to a standstill—nothing gets done and nothing sells.

I know many of you have enjoyed our industry like I have for decades. We all owe it to our industry to protect it from ourselves. It may just be the time to say no!

Jay Mesinger is the CEO and Founder of Mesinger Jet Sales, an international aircraft brokerage firm. With 48 years of successfully buying and selling aircraft, Mesinger Jet Sales has a global reputation for personalized, transparent service.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily endorsed by AIN Media Group.