JetNet iQ, an economic survey and advisory service for business aviation and business travel intelligence, briefed attendees at this year's NBAA convention on the state of the worldwide industry using data from its latest quarterly survey. Since 2011 and through the end of 2016, JetNet iQ's quarterly surveys have included slightly more than 500 respondents, typically from more than 50 countries. According to the data, the good news is that there is good news, at least when looking back over the last several years. From a long-range perspective, the industry offers mixed signals.
JetNet vice president of sales Paul Cardarelli walked attendees through the recent data, noting signs of a small sales recovery, with reduced inventories indicating increased demand. The company's data show some 10.5 percent of the worldwide business jet fleet was for sale in August 2017, compared with 11.3 percent as recently as April 2017. The average number of days a business jet is on the market also is trending downward: it took 236 days to sell a preowned business jet in September 2017 instead of the 260 days required a year earlier. Another good sign: utilization is up approximately 3 percent.
On the other hand, sales of new business jets are relatively flat, with what JetNet iQ calls soft pricing. According to the company, more than 22,000 business jets are in the fleet, and approximately half of them are 20 years old. Utilization also is down, with fixed-wing turbine aircraft being flown an average of 351 hours a year. Compare that with about 500 hours a year in 2002. As the company points out, the U.S. economy has posted 30 quarters, or almost eight years, of growth in a row, an economic trend typically resulting in higher utilization.
As long as existing macroeconomic factors remain stable, JetNet iQ believes so will the business jet industry. Potential positive disruption could stem from what the company calls an Uber for the air, referencing the popular app-driven ride-sharing service. At the same time, the potential for negative disruptions also exist, and can include geopolitical events and discontinued international trade agreements.