In general, demand for private aircraft is improving. We are seeing more pre-owned transactions occurring now than have ever occurred before, a remarkable statistic that has not received very much press in the media. The overall demand for aircraft is an important indicator of the health of the industry, and one that should not be overlooked. It gives reasons for optimism that trading activity is back to a normal level and the market for aircraft is again humming along.
However, this high-level demand is coupled with prices that are continuing to decline. With some exceptions, prices have taken a notable step down in the large cabin segment; a segment that has a habit of leading to trickle down price decreases in smaller cabin sectors. Aircraft pricing is very unstable, and if pricing is the main indicator by which you measure success, then the markets are still in rough shape.
So, should you choose to be an optimist or a pessimist? There is a lot of personality and subjectivity to answer this question, but there are lessons to take away from these mixed messages. If you are a buyer – remember you are not the only one. There are many planes trading right now and there are many other buyers out there looking at the aircraft you are pursuing. Yes, prices are softening, but this is indicative of the market dynamics, not of sellers’ distress. On the whole, the distressed deals are all out of the market, and waiting to find that special opportunity may result in you losing other great opportunities. As a seller, recognise that pricing is still soft and the number achieved may be less than anticipated. Look at the value of the entire transaction instead of just the headline number. The price is but one part of a transaction, so look at the benefits of the other terms and give them credence in your decision making process.
-By Oliver Stone