The business aviation industry has now passed rock-bottom in what has been a cyclical dip of historic proportions, but the pace and extent of its recovery remain far from clear. This was the main area of consensus among delegates to the International Corporate Jet & Helicopter Finance conference held in London in mid-February.
The UK government signaled its intention yesterday to start taxing business-jet passengers in a process that would mirror the country’s existing airline passenger duty (APD). A decision on the proposed per-passenger tax will be made in June, and if approved could be implemented as soon as this fall. What remains unclear is whether the tax would apply only to charter flights and what exemptions might be allowed.
“We are gaining confidence that a recovery is taking hold following good news in recent weeks,” JPMorgan North America Equity Research noted in its latest monthly business jet update, released yesterday. The firm cited the net orders for 74 aircraft booked by Bombardier in the fourth quarter, as well as the firm order for 50 Bombardier Globals placed by NetJets last week.
Revenues at Berkshire Hathaway’s “other services” segment–which includes fractional jet provider NetJets and flight-training company FlightSafety International–climbed by $770 million (up 12 percent year-over-year), to $7.4 billion, according to the company’s 2010 financial results, released on Saturday.
The recent removal of the loophole that allowed aircraft owners to import aircraft into the European Union (EU) via the UK at a zero rate of value-added tax has prospective buyers scrambling for fiscally friendly alternatives. One option is for private operators to find a way to get registered for tax purposes under a commercial aircraft operatorπs certificate, but this could subject the operator to unfavorable scrutiny by the authorities.
The market for pre-owned business aircraft will remain flat for at least another 12 to 24 months and may not completely emerge from the down cycle until 2013 or 2014, according to Freestream Aircraft chief executive Alireza Ittihadieh.
Citing a “significant overhang” of pre-owned jets available at attractive prices, last month’s business jet market report from JPMorgan said business jet demand remains “anemic” while new aircraft backlogs continue to decline. “We see potential for further rate cuts if orders do not pick up. However, there are reasons for optimism,” noted JPMorgan aerospace analyst Joseph Nadol III.
For prospective buyers of business aircraft there’s good news and not so good news.
The good news is that there are some great bargains on pre-owned turbine-powered aircraft languishing in a stubbornly large inventory of unsold aircraft. Many companies and even sole proprietorships may be able to afford a corporate or personal jet that they wouldn’t even have contemplated acquiring just three years ago before prices tanked.
Jupiter, Fla.-based business jet broker The Private Jet Company (TPJC) believes that the “confluence of factors creating the current buyer’s market” will not last beyond 12 months. While the firm clearly has a vested interest in encouraging the purchase of pre-owned business jets, it cited third-party data sources to support its claim.
“Will the overhang finally abate enough in 2011 to drive new [business jet] orders?” JP Morgan North American Equity Research aerospace analyst Joseph Nadol III asked in his firm’s latest monthly business jet report, released on Tuesday. Citing a “significant overhang” of pre-owned jets available at attractive prices, the report said business jet demand remains “anemic” while new aircraft backlogs continue to decline.