Used Business Aircraft Are Still a Good Buy

Jetnet report shows the for-sale fleet hasn’t shrunk.

Jetnet Report

Jetnet Report

Business aircraft research firm Jetnet released its market outlook report for the first quarter, and the results are discouraging – unless you’re shopping for a used business jet, turboprop or turbine helicopter. The size of the used aircraft inventory has always been a measure of the health of the overall general aviation industry. The more aircraft on the market, the lower the prices and the tougher it is for manufacturers to sell new ones.

The most recent numbers for used business jets show the total number for sale has stayed level over the past several years – around 2,500. There were 1,662 jets for sale in September 2007. Compared with the first quarter of last year, there has been a 4.2 percent decrease in the number of sales (transactions) for jets, and the average time on the market is 71 days longer, despite a 3.3 percent decrease in average asking price. Transactions for turboprops were down by 8.8 percent compared with Q1 last year, but average asking price is actually up by 18.7 percent.

If you are fortunate enough to be shopping for a used turbine helicopter, you’ll enjoy average asking prices more than 38 percent lower than last year’s.

Most of the jets wearing “for sale” signs are in the lightweight categories. There are currently about 1,000 light jets on the market, representing about 40 percent of the total number of used jets for sale. That’s down from 49 percent during the pre-crisis years.

Among the numbers in the Jetnet report, one statistic stands out as indicative of a core problem. From 2000 to 2008, the split between aircraft sales that were paid for in cash versus financed was about 50/50. But now, financing is much harder to find, and the ratio is now around 23/77.