Africa’s Used Aircraft Market: 2024 Influences

Which underlying variables might impact pre-owned aircraft demand in 2024? Which markets are likely to be in demand? Felipe Reisch interviews prominent African private aviation experts to learn more…

Felipe Reisch  |  19th December 2023
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    Felipe Reisch
    Felipe Reisch

    Felipe Reisch works as a public relations consultant for private aviation companies worldwide, leading...

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    Africa pre-owned aircraft market outlook in 2024


    The African continent has long been considered a hidden gem for the expansion of private aviation, but could 2024 be a year that sees more of the potential become reality?

    The potential for private aviation in Africa owes to the region’s developing economy which is heavily reliant on commodities located in remote, hard-to-access areas.

    Generally underserved by its network of scheduled airline connections, while bureaucratic hurdles remain in various African nations hindering the growth of private aviation and the benefits it brings, leading aircraft dealers and brokers in Africa have received an influx in requests for pre-owned aircraft coming from developing nations. And they’re expecting interest to grow in 2024.

    The requests are coming from places like Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Botswana and Namibia (in addition to the more usual powerhouses of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya). In fact, Jetcraft projects steady growth in the number of pre-owned aircraft transactions, with 2024 set to receive the greatest single-year increase over the course of the next five years.

    “With the return of the corporate buyer demonstrating the importance businesses place on face-to-face meetings, and Africa still underserved in terms of [scheduled airline] routes – we project this need will remain strong over the year ahead,” predicts Danie Joubert, Vice President of Sales in Africa for Jetcraft.

    For Marlo Kruyswijk, Sales Executive at South Africa-based Ascend Aviation, economic stability throughout the continent bodes well for the industry. “The overall economic growth of Africa is expected to accelerate in 2024, which could boost demand for used aircraft, especially from businesses and individuals in resource-rich countries like Botswana, Nigeria and South Africa.

    “Emerging and developing markets like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Rwanda are projected to witness a surge in demand for used aircraft as their economies expand and business travel increases,” he adds.

    Along similar lines, Joubert believes specific industries will drive growth in other markets. “For example, there are oil and gas discoveries in Namibia and off the coast of Mozambique, copper in Cameroon, and mining activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

    The economy aside, there are other fundamental factors that may drive purchase decisions – none being greater than safety.

    “Safety has become a renewed focal point, and there’s a growing trend of fleet modernization among existing business aircraft owners,” Joubert says. “Simultaneously, high-quality, well-maintained older aircraft are finding suitable homes with first-time buyers.”

    Buying a Used Aircraft in 2024? Some Focus Points…

    Those planning to buy a used aircraft in 2024 should account for more variables than purchase price alone, says Nigel Forrester, CEO of South Africa-based Next Aviation. Other things to factor should be the cost of engine overhaul, turnaround times for overhaul, the cost to upgrade avionics, and the long lead times for spares, avionics and engine parts.

    The time taken for processing paperwork, exchange rates (including depreciating African currencies), cost of fuel, and the previous exportation of several good quality aircraft from Africa’s private aviation fleet are also considerations, he says.

    Market stability is important, adds Joubert, with some buyers waiting for this before they go ahead with their purchases. “The market can also be held back by changes in government. There are instances of buyers hesitating as they carefully consider the timing of their transaction.”

    And of course, the impacts of events affecting the wider global economy play their part, too. Events happening thousands of kilometers away can still impact the demand for aircraft sales in Africa, Kruyswijk says.

    “The interconnectedness of the global economy means that conflicts in one part of the world can have ripple effects throughout the world.

    “Political stability and improved governance are crucial for attracting foreign investment and advancing economic growth [in Africa]. Regions that experience positive political developments could see increased demand for used aircraft.”

    Among the market inhibitors in 2024 are what Forrester damningly describes as “the inability of state-owned enterprise (SOE) to meet payments and deadlines”, while Kruyswijk identifies bureaucratic hurdles and infrastructure as the weak links toward the market achieving its full potential.

    “Complex import-export regulations and bureaucratic procedures can complicate aircraft transactions and increase costs, while limited airport infrastructure and outdated air traffic management systems in some countries can pose challenges for private aircraft operations.”

    Turboprops, Mid-size Jets & Other Hot Markets

    In 2023, the industry witnessed a clear trend towards larger aircraft to address the commercial needs of corporations across Africa’s vast landmass, and experts believe this trend could continue.

    Nevertheless, Jetcraft has seen increasing interest in Light Jets in Eastern Africa for wider use in the region. Cessna Citations, Bombardier Learjets, and Embraer Phenoms remain a source of significant interest in Southern Africa, Joubert adds, but have increasing appeal in East and West Africa too.

    Of course, the backbone of Africa’s private aviation fleet is built around turboprops, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

    “Turboprops will always remain important in Africa, generally offering the ability to operate in areas where larger jets are impractical,” Joubert says. “The regional tourism market in East Africa and Southern Africa is also well established, driving demand for Cessna Caravans, Beechcraft King Airs, and other turboprops.”

    “Turboprop aircraft are expected to be in high demand due to their versatility, affordability, and suitability for shorter unpaved runways,” Kruyswijk affirms.

    In a nutshell, the used aircraft sales market in Africa is expected to grow moderately in 2024 and, with analysts predicting a mild recession to hit the US in the first half of the year, this could potentially influence the market by providing more favorable buying conditions for individuals in Africa, notes Joubert.

    As to which markets will remain hot and not, Kruyswijk reckons Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Kenya will enjoy growth, while Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sudan are less likely to.

    “We expect countries with large economies, such as Nigeria and South Africa, to be hot,” Joubert adds. “Outside of these traditional powerhouses, we’ve seen an increase in enquiries from both private and corporate buyers in Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, and Uganda.”

    More information from:
    Ascend Aviation: https://ascendaviation.co.za/
    Jetcraft: www.jetcraft.com
    Next Aviation: https://nextaviation.co.za/


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