Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bizjet Market Mimicking 'Lost Decade,' Analyst Says

Business aviation analyst Brian Foley believes that aircraft such as the Dassault Falcon 5X will lift deliveries of large-cabin business jets once they enter the market.
(Photo: Dassault Falcon)

Noting that supply has evened out with demand, business aviation market analyst Brian Foley predicts that the market for new aircraft is going to remain flat for the foreseeable future. In his recent forecast, Foley likened the current market to what he referred to as the “Lost Decade,” a period between 1986 and 1996 when business jet deliveries stagnated at about 350 units each year. “It’s going to potentially be an even a longer period than the Lost Decade,” Foley said. But the silver lining, he added, is that the deliveries will average between 650 and 750 units per year over the next few years, rising to 775 to 825 after that through 2025. This is double that of the so-called Lost Decade.

Many important economic indicators have stabilized since the downturn, including corporate profits, the stock market and even gross domestic product, Foley pointed out. Along with it, so have many industry indicators. The pre-owned market, which had reached a point where almost one in five jets was for sale during the economic crash, has now returned to normal levels. The number of business jet takeoffs and landings are coming back. But the puzzling piece is the lack of significant return of deliveries since the downturn, he said.

Foley pointed to a number of key changes in the market today. In 2008, he said, it was almost the perfect storm: credit was easy to obtain; a weak dollar made it cheaper to buy U.S. products; a number of markets were emerging; and commodity prices were soaring. “Today, it is almost a complete flip-flop,” he said. “If you are not in the U.S., you are probably seeing generally some sort of economic weakness. The dollar is a lot stronger, so buying offshore is more expensive…and commodity prices fell off a cliff.”

While corporate profits came back, Foley pointed to a “business mentality in corporations that you have to do more with less. Even though economic indicators are up, everyone is still a little bit skittish.”

Another factor is plummeting residual values. “Where’s the floor?” he asked, adding that business jets are now behaving more like a capital good. “There are more than 20,000 flying. They are not such a hard thing to come by.” Also business aviation consumers have many more options than outright purchase of aircraft, including jet cards and membership programs.

By cabin size, he forecasts that, by percentage, deliveries of larger-cabin aircraft will continue to dip below those of below small-cabin models over the next year, but will return to account for roughly 40 percent of the market as some of the newer large business jets, including the Dassault Falcon 5X, Gulfstream G500/G600 and Bombardier Global 7000, reach the market.

Once those aircraft begin entering service, the value of the business jet market, which began to fall after 2015, will begin to strengthen, Foley said. But he does not see a return to the 50 percent share the large-cabin jets held earlier this decade.

Geographically, North America, which accounts for two-thirds of the business jet fleet, will continue to dominate. But a stronger Euro and improved European stock markets are bolstering the market in Europe. The Central and South American markets, which have just a few more business jets than in Western Europe, however, are likely to remain soft for the foreseeable future, Foley predicted. “I can see that sitting out for five to 10 more years,” he said.
(Kerry Lynch - AINOnline Aviation News)

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