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The business aviation industry successfully emerged from the Covid pandemic with flight activity near 2019 levels, but it will be several years yet until aircraft delivery rates match those of the pre-pandemic period, according to Honeywell Aerospace’s Business Jet Delivery Outlook. The company’s annual 10-year delivery forecast calls for 7,400 new business jet deliveries over the next decade worth an estimated $238 billion, up 100 units from last year’s forecast, but still down from the 7,600 it prognosticated back in 2019.
The company's longer-range forecast through 2031 projects a 3 percent average annual growth rate of deliveries, in line with expected worldwide long-term economic growth. Released on Sunday ahead of this year's NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas, this year's forecast marks Honeywell's 30th anniversary of doing the outlook.
For this year, while airframers are seeing their order books and backlogs swell, Honeywell (Booth 2901, 4100B) predicts deliveries of between 575 and 620 business jets, as they continue to ramp up production amid lingering supply chain and labor issues. Javier Jimenez Serrano, the senior strategy specialist in charge of this year’s survey told AIN, “We expect expenditures for new jet purchases to recover to 2019 levels by late 2022 to 2023, and in terms of units that will be by the mid-point of the decade.”
According to Serrano, 90 percent of the operators surveyed indicated that their purchase plans are not being postponed in the post-Covid environment, up 10 percent over last year’s total, and of those with plans to purchase a new business jet over the next five years, nearly one-third expect to make those purchases within the next two years.
Each year the company conducts its research along with a survey of more than 1,500 operators to gain insight into their aircraft purchase and usage plans over the next five years. It then extrapolates that data out to cover the next five years. This year the survey window began in June and wrapped up last month.
The preowned business jet market has seen record transaction levels over the past year as operators scramble to acquire more lift capacity in the face of rising demand brought about by the pandemic’s impact on commercial aviation and the first-time private aviation charter customers that have resulted. Honeywell added that its actual fleet aircraft replacement and expansion rates could be even higher than those gleaned by the survey results, due to that influx of new private aviation users.
Among the most striking survey results this year is that used jet purchase plans rise by an estimated 12 percent over the next half-decade, equivalent to approximately 800 additional aircraft transactions over that span. Operators indicated that 28 percent of their fleet is expected to be replaced by or expanded with used aircraft over the next five years, an increase of 3 percent from last year’s survey.
“The increased demand for used jets at more than 6,500 units over the next five years [is] putting pressure on an already low inventory, and driving additional demand for new jets,” stated Heath Patrick, president of Honeywell’s Americas aftermarket division. “Our latest operator survey results support continued private jet usage growth.”
The survey this year indicated that 65 percent of all respondents plan to utilize their aircraft more in 2022, while the remaining third believe their flight hours/activity will remain the same as in 2021. Only 2 percent said they thought they would fly less next year.
Serrano explained that most of the continued growth is in the domestic private charter market. “In the short term we’ve seen more deliveries of light and medium jets than we had expected, so the impact of Covid in 2021 was not as sharp there,” he said. “We see light jets outpacing the other categories just because that is the entry-level jet where a lot of the new consumers of business or private aviation start. In the long-term, however, we see the larger, heavy jets, the long-range categories growing in demand.”
He noted that the segments tend to be stimulated when new aircraft enter the market, and the large-cabin class has certainly received the most attention of late, with Bombardier still ramping up its Global 7500 deliveries; Gulfstream readying its G700 for certification and just announcing the G800 and G400; and Dassault’s launch of its new flagship 10X in May. Overall, over the decade span of the forecast, Honeywell predicts the heavy/long-range segment will account for 39 percent of business jet deliveries and represent more than 72 percent of the total valuation while small jets will total 35 percent of the market share and 10 percent of the billings.
That leaves the medium cabin (mid-to-super midsize) category at slightly more than one-quarter of the total deliveries.
Geographically, North America is expected to remain at the most important business aircraft market with a 63 percent share of deliveries in the 10-year outlook window. Over the first half of the decade at least 13 percent of the fleet is expected to be replaced or supplemented with a new jet purchase.
In Europe, purchase expectations declined by five percentage points compared with last year, a possible factor of the Covid Delta variant that was causing travel restrictions at the time of the survey. The continent’s purchase expectations had been high for the past several years as operators refreshed an aging fleet. Europe’s used aircraft purchase plans are the highest globally, estimated at 34 percent of the current fleet, up 6 percent from 2020.
For Latin America, purchase expectations increased 6 points year-over-year, returning to pre-pandemic levels. The region will represent 5 percent of the total projected business jet demand over the next five years, an increase of two percentage points from last year.
Despite ongoing geopolitical and commercial tensions in the region, purchase plans for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region are up this year, with operators indicating their first appetite for fleet expansion for the first time in three years. Based on the survey results, APAC will represent a 12 percent share of the new jet market over the next five years.
Lastly, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) area, which is expected to total 4 percent of new jet purchases over the next decade, saw declines in both new jet purchases and near-term new jet purchase intentions from last year’s survey. Only 9 percent of respondents indicated that they would purchase a new jet, down from 16 percent in 2020, while the percentage of those who indicated they intended to buy a new jet in the next two years, fell from 46 percent last year to 13 percent in this edition of the survey, Honeywell said, noting the region is currently impacted by both low vaccination rates and fluctuating crude oil revenues.
“Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, the overall health of the business jet market is strong, and growth is expected to continue,” concluded Patrick.