The pre-owned aircraft market is changing. Whereas in the past demand came primarily from the medium and large cabin aircraft, last year this segment posted a double digit decline in value. At least half of this trend can be attributed to the effect of a strong US dollar, although this is only a theory.
“What is not a theory, however, is that large cabin or heavy jet aircraft are, in general, declining in value at a rate that is inconsistent with the once held truth that these were 20 to 30 year useful life assets,” says Credit Suisse Markus Bärtschi. “There’s also the problem that such traditional references as Bluebook are no longer the go-to-reference, being replaced by distressed deals as the new benchmark.”
When it comes to the pre-owned market, residual values of business jets are causing owners to delay replacement, and this has an effect on availability of used aircraft. According to one survey, 59% of those surveyed were influenced by the current used aircraft market. However, OEMs will be encouraged by the fact that available used jets are now down to a ‘normal’ level of 12% of the world aircraft fleet, compared with 17% in 2009. For existing operators, there is no reason for them to add to or replace their existing aircraft.
“The problem is that the state of the European, and indeed the global, business aviation industry is not reflecting its value proposition. In short, it has barely recovered at all from its crash in 2009, and business aviation activity in Europe has actually slipped in each of the last two years,” explains WingX Advance Managing Director Richard Koe. “More so, the customer base – whether aircraft buyers or charterers – is not growing. Instead, the industry is reliant on a tiny niche of ultra-rich individuals. Worse still, this cohort now appears to be receding, as their oil incomes dwindle and shareholdings slump.”
Which brings us to 2016 – a year where we are seeing more of the same. Both Bärtschi and Koe agree that North America will continue to serve as the industry’s engine as other regions go soft due to geopolitical stresses, struggling economies, commodity and oil price pressures and currency fluctuations against the US dollar. Our conclusion: expect more of the same through the end of 2016, with better days expected from 2017.