The available worldwide inventory of preowned business aircraft tightened up across most sectors, but with the exception of business jets and fixed-wing pistons, so too did the number of retail transactions in 2018, according to JetNet’s year-end analysis.
The Utica, New York-based aviation market information specialist found that all segments except piston helicopters experienced a lower inventory for sale at the end of 2018 than 2017. And, with the exception of fixed-wing pistons, the percentage of the in-service fleet for sale is below 10 percent across the board.
The available percentage of business jets for sale declined the most, by 0.9 percent, followed by fixed-wing pistons at 0.8 percent in 2018, JetNet reported. The available percentage of turboprop fleet for sale was down by 0.5 percent. In the rotorcraft segment, the percentage of turbines available for sale dipped 0.7 percent, while piston helicopters were the sole increase at 0.3 percent.
During 2018 the number of retail fixed-wing piston transactions soared, up 19 percent over 2017. Business jet transactions also improved, but by a more modest 2.1 percent.
But at the same time, transactions involving turboprop-powered aircraft dipped 2.4 percent in 2018. Transactions for rotorcraft were also down overall, with turbine sales dropping 8.5 percent and pistons by 10.4 percent.
Across all market sectors, including commercial jet airliners, there were 9,198 full retail sale transactions for 2018, JetNet reported. By contrast, total transactions numbered 10,111 in 2017. Business jets accounted for 2,809 of the transactions in 2018.
Aircraft took 23 fewer days to sell in 2018 across all segments except turbine helicopters. Business jets were on the market 29 fewer days, while turboprops took 42 fewer days to sell and fixed-wing pistons 58 fewer days. Turbine helicopters, meanwhile, took 58 more days. Piston helicopters took 56 fewer days.
“As the business jet market has finally broken below the 10 percent threshold of inventory for sale, a period of transition is now in play, wherein the pendulum swings in favor from the buyer to the seller,” JetNet said of the market results, noting that the number of business jets available for sale has dropped from the high point of 2,938 in July 2009 to 1,974 in December 2018—a decline from 17.7 percent of the in-service fleet a decade ago to 9 percent currently.
But there are still trouble spots for would-be sellers, JetNet notes: “Today, the market of available aircraft continues to shrink, and still, many models exhibit the soft pricing brought on by the diminishment of residual values that so completely dominated the post-recession years.”
JetNet believes that, for buyers, the best advice is to act now, warning that prices may not further soften. Younger aircraft were involved with 16 percent fewer transactions, the analyst noted and added brokers believe this trend is less tied to demand and more to a lack of desirable available aircraft. Overall, 66 percent of the pre-owned transactions involved aircraft 20 years or younger.
“Now that 2019 is here, we hope the U.S. preowned market, along with improvements in the world economy, will continue to push more new aircraft purchases,” JetNet concluded.