Inventory of preowned business jets has reached record lows, according to market analysis by private jet broker Colibri Aircraft. The company noted that approximately 4.65 percent of the preowned fleet is available for sale, the lowest percentage since such recordkeeping began in the 1980s.
This is exacerbated by last year’s Covid-induced decline in new jet deliveries—at 644, the lowest total since 2004—combined with the private jet sector experiencing high demand as passengers seek safer travel methods during a pandemic.
“Buying private jets is extremely difficult right now, particularly for European-compliant aircraft,” said Colibri managing director Oliver Stone. “Multiple buyers and a shrinking inventory of available aircraft have made a very competitive market.” He described a recent attempt to purchase a late-model Challenger 650 for a client, only to encounter at least six competing bids. The aircraft eventually sold near its asking price. "To say that the market is competitive at the moment is an understatement."
Stone noted that much of the decline in inventory has been in the U.S., which reopened more quickly following pandemic restrictions than other parts of the world. He attributed the strong demand for private aviation to two factors; a desire to travel in an environment better insulated from the risk of Covid transmission and the significant reduction in commercial airline schedules. Both have spurred owners retain their aircraft, as well as causing a surge of first-time buyers into the market.
In addition, the tight market has also led owners to hold onto their aircraft longer due to lack of suitable replacements, Stone added. And for those individuals who looked to resume their travels in 2020 while avoiding crowded airports, waiting in an airframer’s queue was not an option, he said.
In its analysis, Colibri also attributed price differential as contributing to the low number of available jets. Of the top 20 best-selling jet types in 2020, 14 of the models were trading for less than $2.5 million. Comparing that with the approximately $3 million base price for a new single-engine light jet, the broker suggests that many buyers are taking advantage of the value of preowned aircraft.