Traditional measures point to a recovery in the economy in general, but the business aviation sector has yet to enjoy it. On the up side, credit has loosened somewhat for newer aircraft, as lenders find niche markets for themselves. For many buyers, however, cash remains king.
The Paris Air Show attracts not just buyers and sellers of aircraft and related equipment, but also the buyers and sellers of the companies that make them. The aerospace and defense sectors have been hotbeds of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in recent years, and the bankers who guide and cajole these deals have once again flocked to Le Bourget.
For the business aviation industry, the past year has been a trying one, to say
the least. Aircraft sales and usage declined steeply as the economic downturn tightened its grip, forcing operators to cope with the new financial realities, and in some cases with disparaging views of the industry.
UBS Investment Research’s business jet survey released late last month shows a contracting market index that is “reflective of a market that continues to rapidly deteriorate.” According to UBS analyst David Strauss, “We believe this [is] a market with few serious buyers, too much supply and pricing that has fallen 25 percent or more over the past six to eight weeks.” A lack of financing is also endangering aircraft manufacturers’ backlogs, UB
Last year when AIN took a close look at the aviation finance industry, the prevailing sentiment among industry insiders was that if you were looking for money to finance a business jet, the money would find you. At the time, many of the aircraft finance divisions still felt they were relatively insulated from their mortgage brethren, even within the same company.
Business aircraft buyers can expect loans to be harder to find and more costly, according to Adam Warner, president of Key Equipment Finance, Downers Grove, Ill. “There are fewer players in the finance market because some banks simply don’t have capital to lend,” he said. Those that have money are more selective and now less willing to finance 100 percent of an aircraft’s value.
What a difference a year makes.