Despite charter flight demand continuing to rise over the past month, flight-hour rates have softened.
For a pilot worried about whether the next bump in operating costs will be one more incentive for the boss to sell the airplane, recent volatility of oil prices and rising jet-A prices must be disturbing.
Attractive pricing persists on many popular models despite a continued tightening of inventory to its lowest level since peaking less than two years ago.
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.
An early takeoff for seasonal holiday-driven traffic provoked a steep spike in demand for private charter flights. According to the latest forward-looking index from online charter portal Avinode, projected demand for this month was more than 75 points up on the November 1 level at 167.35. The December 1 index was almost 80 points above that recorded on the same day last year.
Forecast demand for executive charter flights over the next 30 days is slightly down from a month ago, according to the latest data from online charter portal Avinode. As of November 1, the forward-looking demand index produced by the Sweden-based group was 92.83, about 2 points below where it stood on October 1. However, this month’s demand index is still about 32 points ahead of where it was 12 months ago.
Price index data from online charter portal Avinode reinforces the impression reported by operators and brokers that the market has been making a slow and gradual recovery during the course of this year. Analysis of the company's price index since Jan. 1, 2009, shows a marked decline in expected rates for worldwide charter, as well as specifically within Europe and the U.S., followed by a slow recovery.
For more than a year, recovery mode in the pre-owned aircraft market has meant more an outflow than intake. Although the number of choices has decreased, there has been no corresponding increase in prices, making it extremely attractive for buyers. Currently, purchasing an aircraft is more about operating cost than it is about acquisition costs.
The business jet market index from UBS Investment Research last month fell a further 8 percent, to 37, the second consecutive decrease and below the threshold of 50–the median above which a growing market is indicated and below which deterioration is seen. This follows a stable first half, in which the index held at 50–meaning stabilized conditions–for three consecutive surveys.
Despite teetering over the abyss of economic collapse and having to overcome negative public perception surrounding corporate jet ownership, the used aircraft market has battled back, slowly and perhaps surprisingly consistently, chipping away at a glutted market. Month after month since late 2008, buyers have stepped into the market and pared back the numbers to arrive at the lowest inventory level in a year-and-a-half.