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New and Pre-Owned Aircraft Markets Show Signs of Rebounding

May 13, 2013

To date in 2013, worldwide sales of new and pre-owned general aviation aircraft demonstrate that while the industry continues its gradual rebound, significant growth may still be years away.

Last week, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced an encouraging upswing for deliveries of new general aviation (GA) aircraft, with first quarter billings improving 31.7 percent over the same period last year. Deliveries throughout all industry segments measured by GAMA improved over last year's quarterly totals, with billings for multi-engine turboprops leading the way with a nearly 79 percent gain and business jet shipments increasing four percent. Piston aircraft deliveries also rose by 3.8 percent.

"We are very pleased to see a shift to the positive for GA airplanes, which extends across all airplane segments, for the first quarter of 2013," noted GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. "However, the performance was mixed within the segments, which demonstrates the need for industry’s continued engagement with elected officials and regulators throughout the world as we seek to strengthen the GA sector." Review the GAMA report.

The pre-owned aircraft market also appears to be improving in 2013.

A report by JetNet LLC listed slightly fewer aircraft for sale worldwide in February 2013 than in February 2012, although the company noted that the percentage for sale has declined as a result of the growth of the in-operation fleet numbers. There are now more than 19,000 business jets flying worldwide.

JetNet said the market for business turboprop aircraft has showed the greatest strength recently, with "well below" 10 percent of the worldwide turboprop fleet available for sale, "clearly moving [turboprops] into a seller’s market."

Piston helicopters was the only segment measured by JetNet to post an overall increase in number of aircraft for sale over February 2012. Review the JetNet report.

European Market 'Slow but Steady'

Ahead of next week's opening of the 2013 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2013), a study by aviation advisory firm Brian Foley Associates noted the European market for new and pre-owned aircraft remains "slow ... [but] relatively stable over the past few years," with the overall number of business aircraft on the continent dropping 2 percent from May 2012 totals.

Citing data from business aircraft fleet and market data provider AMSTAT, Foley noted that gains in the number of large-cabin business jets in Europe were offset by continuing losses in the number of smaller models.

"The situation will drag on a bit longer," Foley added, pointing to continuing weak economic news and talk of further austerity measures throughout Europe. Any significant upturn there is likely two to three years away, he added.

Foley also noted that most of the decline in European fleet totals came from aircraft relocated to North America, indicating improving market conditions on that continent. While Europe will continue to be the second-largest market for business aircraft for the near future, behind North America, Foley added that the Asia-Pacific region remains the largest growth market worldwide.

"In our forecast, all of Europe accounts for 19 percent of future jet deliveries, down from 25% in the previous decade," he continued. "That difference has largely been ceded to Asia, which has shown steadily increasing market potential."

Review the report from Brian Foley Associates.