Despite economic and political upheaval in Latin America over the past year, the region’s combined fleet of private business jets, turboprops and turbine helicopters has remained relatively stable, says aviation analyst Brian Foley. “While one would expect a commensurate loss in fleet size and sales transactions, that is not currently the case,” he said. “Pockets of weakness in specific countries were generally offset by stability and even improvements in others.”
Foley said data from Amstat indicates that the fleet of private aircraft in the region grew by 1 percent over the 12 months ending June 30. However, this pales in comparison with the double-digit percentage gains seen earlier in the decade, he said. While Brazil’s fleet has contracted for two years in a row, it has been counterbalanced by slight increases in other countries. Brazil’s decrease has been primarily due to a reduction in the number of business jets based there.
Further, the number of new aircraft deliveries and pre-owned aircraft transactions is not indicative of the current upheaval in the area, Foley noted. Amid the regional chaos, the number of pre-owned transactions has barely budged and is within 5 percent of last year's total and new aircraft deliveries increased 10 percent, from 29 to 32 units, he said.
Foley called Brazil “the antithesis of the rest of the region.” Even though the Brazilian aircraft fleet contracted over the past year, pre-owned transactions climbed 23 percent while new deliveries more than doubled from seven units to 16.
Another standout is Mexico, according to Foley. Despite uncertainty with NAFTA and Mexico's trading status with the U.S., the Mexican business aircraft fleet increased, led by jet and turboprop growth with a slight fall-off in helicopters.
“It appears that despite drama in the region, the private aircraft market in Latin and South America may have already seen the worst,” he concluded. “While it could easily take upwards of a decade for activity to return to previous levels, some of the downside risk has already been absorbed. It’s my supposition that the market may have already bottomed out.”