A shortage of new-model business jets is driving up prices of second-hand aircraft, a trend that is expected to bring windfall gains for luxury planmakers as newly affluent buyers enter the market.
After a turbulent 2020 due to COVID-19, the rush towards private transport is so marked that some buyers are snapping second-hand planes before fully inspecting the goods as market vendors, lawyers and brokers moves towards.
This is expected to drive demand for the new jets from planmakers such as General Dynamics Corp.’s Gulfstream, Textron and Bombardier as buyers have fewer pre-owned options, and the price difference between older and newer hybrids.
“There are virtually no young pre-owned aircraft available – good news for potential sellers and [planemakers], said aviation analyst Roland Vincent.
He recalled the recent discovery of a pre-owned Gulfstream jet by a trucking company: “There was a plane in the world that suited their needs.”
According to data from FlightAware, traffic from business jets, which carry about 19 passengers, has reached pre-pandemic levels in the United States, the world’s largest market for private aviation.
“On the pre-owned side, inventory appears to be fairly low, and that’s always a benefit for new aircraft sales,” said Scott Neal, senior vice president of worldwide sales at Gulfstream.
“We are seeing strong interest across the board from first time buyers and high net worth individuals as well as corporate clients with a desire to grow our fleet.”
Textron raised its full-year profit forecast in April, driven by a rebound in business jet demand.
But since COVID-19, buyers are turning to private aviation to avoid airport congestion and coronavirus variants. Applegate said some deals are so competitive it’s seen buyers skip pre-purchase inspections to win them.
Don Dwyer, managing partner of Guardian Jet, an aircraft brokerage, appraisal and consulting firm, recalled a case where a customer did not conduct a pre-purchase inspection, which could take more than a month to complete.
Vincent said the trend could encourage some planmakers to increase production rates, although any ramp-up will depend on supply chain capabilities.
Planners do not disclose the total number of orders.
Vincent said the famous aircraft for sale in May accounted for 6.6 percent of the worldwide fleet, the lowest level recorded by JetNet data in 25 years.
He said 864 pre-owned business jets were sold during the first four months of 2021, a 36 percent increase from the same period last year.
“There are many proposals on planes,” said Florida-based aviation attorney Stewart Lapayovkar, founder of Lapayowker Jet Counsel PA.
Amanda Applegate, a partner at Airlex Law Group, said it struck deals for more new jets in May than usual after buyers failed to secure popular pre-owned planes like the G650, pushing up prices.
Applegate said it was a case of a lack of demand as some wealthy travelers previously avoided private jets because of concerns over the envirolovebylifent such as “flight shaming”. Corporate aircraft burn more fuel per passenger than commercial ones.
Dwyer said this was a special case because based on visual inspection the aircraft was highly reputable, in good shape, and the seller was reputable.
“I don’t recommend it, but it can work in some situations.”