Demand for private jets is on the rise due to restrictions on international flights, but buyers have limited options to acquire aircraft from the secondary market as the pre-owned jet fleet available for sale has reached historical lows, latest data shows.
London-based private jet broker Colibri Aircraft disclosed that only around 4.65 per cent of the pre-owned jet fleet is available for sale — the lowest level since records began in the 1980s.
In total, around 1,134 private jets are currently available for sale globally, compared to approximately 1,839 in June 2020, a decline of over 38 per cent, according to Colibri.
“This low inventory, plus a drop in the number of new private jets being delivered — down 20 per cent last year from 2019, the lowest number since 2004, means that despite a difficult market for commercial aviation and travel in general the private jet sector has been experiencing high levels of demand,” it said. The pre-owned jet market currently comprises over 20,000 aircraft globally.
Oliver Stone, managing director of Colibri Aircraft, said buying private jets is extremely difficult right now, particularly for European-compliant aircraft.
“Multiple buyers and a shrinking inventory of available aircraft have made a very competitive market. We recently tried to purchase a late-model Challenger 650 for a client, and at least six offers were made for this aircraft, which ended up trading close to its headline asking price. To say that the market is competitive at the moment is an understatement,” Stone said in a statement to Khaleej Times.
On why there has been a decline in the supply of private jets, he said this decline has been led by the US, which reopened far quicker than other parts of the world.
“Key factors driving the dramatic drop in the supply of private jets for sale was a strong desire to travel in an environment with far lower risk of Covid transmission — there are as many as 680 fewer person-to-person interactions when flying by private jet compared to commercial aviation — and a significantly reduced airline service making airlines less convenient, which meant that more owners of private jets wanted to keep hold of their aircraft and a large number of first time buyers entered the market,” Stone elaborated.
In addition, surging asset prices in stock markets and real estate, historically-cheap debt due to government stimulus and depreciation benefits that applied to private jet purchases removed many of the financial pressures some owners might have been under to sell their aircraft in more normal circumstances and also encouraged new buyers to act, he said.
“Finally, as inventory declined so rapidly we found that current owners are often holding onto their current aircraft as they struggle to find a suitable replacement in such a supply-constrained environment, further decreasing the aircraft that are coming available for sale,” Stone added.
New versus pre-owned
One of the biggest reasons for the popularity of the pre-owned market compared to new aircraft is the price difference. Colibri says depreciation has been a constant feature of aircraft since the financial crisis in 2008, and a pre-owned aircraft typically offers significant savings on the purchase price.
This proposition of similar utility for a lower purchase price has driven the pre-owned market’s popularity: Of the top 20 best-selling jet types in 2020, 14 of these models were trading for under $2.5 million. Given that the lowest price for a new private jet — a single engine light jet — is around $3 million, it suggests that many buyers are taking advantage of the value of pre-owned aircraft.
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