In a filing in bankruptcy court just before Christmas, Hawker Beechcraft asked for court approval to shed two underfunded pension plans covering some 9,500 non-union workers and retirees. The request is part of an agreement with the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) and the OEM’s machinists’ union. Terms of the agreement require PBGC to assume responsibility for the two terminated pensions, while Hawker Beechcraft will keep the pension plan covering its 8,200 current and former union employees. A hearing to consider the plan is scheduled for January 17.
John (Rick) Haskins, one of the founding partners and former president and CEO of Jet Support Services (JSSI), died last week in Chicago at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer. He led the company, the first independent engine hourly-cost maintenance program provider, from its inception in 1989 until its 2008 sale to private equity firms R.H. Book and 1848 Capital Partners. Haskins then went on to found an investment firm that provides growth capital to aviation-related companies, and to lead a short-lived helicopter airport shuttle service.
Business jet demand “remains weak, but is not getting much worse,” JPMorgan Investment Research noted in its latest business jet monthly report. This sentiment is reflected in its forecast of 2 percent growth in business jet deliveries for next year.
At the NBAA Convention later this month in Orlando, Fla., “Manufacturers will likely emphasize the potential for rising deliveries beyond 2012, pockets of demand strength and the products they are developing,” JPMorgan aerospace analysts wrote in the firm’s latest business jet monthly report, released yesterday. “However, with U.S. and European flight ops flat to down year-to-date, Chinese demand facing pressure and OEM backlogs yet to turn up decisively, optimism should be muted.”
JPMorgan downgraded Embraer yesterday from overweight to neutral, in large part due to concerns about Embraer’s airliner business. However, the investment firm noted that “continued weakness” in flight operations and other indicators “are leading us to dial back our business jet delivery forecast,” but it still predicts healthy growth in this segment.
“Business jet deliveries rose 11 percent year-over-year in the first half of the year, prompting some commentary that a recovery is under way, but we view this conclusion as premature,” JPMorgan North American Research said in its latest monthly business jet outlook, released yesterday. “Tougher comparables and fewer Hawker deliveries post-bankruptcy should result in a second-half decline that holds deliveries flattish for the year.”
“We expect a bounce in 2012, though we believe the [business jet] recovery will start slowly and we forecast delivery growth of 8 percent,” JPMorgan Investment Research said in its latest monthly business jet market report, released today. However, evidence of a recovery on the low end is still “not compelling,” it noted.
“We sense an eagerness for a pickup in the long-depressed business jet market, particularly at the lower end, but we continue to observe mixed signals,” JPMorgan Investment Research notes in its latest market report. Despite the conflicting signals, the investment research firm still predicts an 8-percent rise in business jet deliveries this year.
If you’re gainfully employed in business aviation, odds are you vote Republican and cheerlead for robust capitalism, and that’s understandable. Nobody with a mortgage and kids to educate is inclined to bite the hand that feeds, and capitalism-created wealth is what pays the bills for all of us in this business.
According to JPMorgan North American Equity Research’s latest business jet monthly report, business jet deliveries will remain flat this year at about 549 aircraft, 47 percent below the peak in 2008, but this could rise to more than 650 next year.