““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
Inventory Plummets as Strong Sales Continue
For some jet models, demand now exceeds supply.
Momentum from a strong finish in 2013 impacted the preowned business jet market in the first quarter of this year. Within just a few months, the number of aircraft for sale dropped about 10 percent, from 2,600 to 2,350. That’s a huge change.
It could be that buyers have finally responded to the declines of the past year, when prices of many models dropped to 50 to 70 percent of their peaks and millions of dollars in value evaporated. Some market segments may now be oversold.
The shining stars of the downturn have been Bombardier’s Challenger 300 and Gulfstream’s G550. Book values of the former have stabilized in recent quarters and the latter has seen significantly higher lows, with sale prices for early serial numbers moving closer to the $30 million mark. The Falcon 7X, meanwhile, is in short supply. The rate of sales among 7Xs seems lackluster, with one trading hands only about every two months, but that’s been enough to reduce inventory to about half of what it was a year ago.
There’s some heat in the formerly dormant super-midsize category. Only about 7 percent of the Citation Sovereign fleet—about a third less than a year ago—is on the market, for example; and availability is also down for the Falcon 2000 and Gulfstream G200.
Some hard-to-locate models are particularly difficult to find close to home. Consider the Citation CJ2. Not only has inventory shrunk—from 37 a year ago to 23 today—but just three of the currently available aircraft are U.S.-based. (Nearly half are in Europe.) The decline in average prices—from around $3.5 million in 2011 to a little over $3 million last year and now $2.5 million to $3 million—appears to be ending, but any bump up will be only as much as the low end of the CJ3 market will permit.
Overall, the used jet business seems to finally be back on track and poised to continue on its current path as we approach one of the more active quarters.
Bryan Comstock is president of Jeteffect, a jet sales and acquisitions firm headquartered in Long Beach, California.
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