- 29 Mar 2023
- Matt Harris
- AvBuyer Africa Articles
As 2024 approaches, two of Africa’s leading private aviation experts share insights with Felipe Reisch on the prospects for pre-owned aircraft sales within the region for the coming year...Back to Articles
Africa has a unique aviation landscape defined, in part, by its geography, remote locations, and inefficiencies in its scheduled airline network. These conditions continue to fuel the rise of private aviation as a feasible option within the continent, and especially for business success rather than personal use.
While turboprops are king in terms of adaptability and operational costs, some experts note a shifting trend for Light Jets, thanks to the range and overall comfort they offer.
Danie Joubert, Vice President of Sales for Africa at Jetcraft is one such expert, highlighting this is especially the case because the newer Turboprop models can cost the same as an Entry-Level or Light Jet.
“Turboprops will remain important, but from recent interactions with prospects in East Africa the trend towards Light Jets for wider use in the region will increase over time,” he predicts.
“Interest in smaller jets, such as Cessna Citations, Bombardier Learjets, and Embraer Phenoms remains high in Southern Africa, and has been increasing out of East and West Africa.”
Dave Howarth, Sales Director at United Aircraft Sales, agrees. “While turboprops will continue leading the way, especially for humanitarian missions and the growing ecotourism sector, the long-term picture may evolve.
“With economic growth, political stability, and infrastructural advancements on the horizon, along with innovative financing options, business jets could gain further traction. So, while turboprops will likely dominate in the near-term, the aviation landscape may diversify to include a greater presence of business jets as regional conditions improve.”
Well-established economies such as South Africa and Nigeria continue to lead the way in terms of demand for private aircraft, although other rising players are starting to emerge, thanks to the travel need that’s being generated by mining activity.
“We’ve seen increased enquiries from private and corporate buyers in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Senegal and Kenya, among others,” Joubert shares.
“Mining activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are a key driver of business aircraft enquiries in that region, with similar activity taking place around the demand for copper in Cameroon and the oil and gas fields in Namibia and off the coast of Mozambique.”
In terms of the type of aircraft receiving enquiries, Large Cabin and Ultra-Long-Range business jets generated the most interest according to United Aircraft Sales – especially in South Africa.
Jetcraft also continues to see strong demand for Large Cabin and Long-Range Jets on the continent – the result of Africa’s geography and the need for doing business across the vast landmass.
“We’ve also seen a consistent increase in enquiries and aircraft sales in critical business sectors,” Joubert adds. “The demand is driven largely by real business need for travel across the continent, rather than private ownership for personal use.
“And East Africa and Southern Africa have a very well-established General Aviation sector,” he adds, “especially in the regional tourism market. This mainly utilizes Cessna Caravans, Beechcraft King Airs, and other turboprops, as well as some smaller jets and regional airliners.”
“Interestingly, we're finding that our local [pre-owned aircraft inventory] is being snapped up by buyers from other regions,” Howarth highlights. “Our sales have predominantly been to buyers from outside Africa.
“Older Light Jets as well as Single- and Twin-Engine Turboprops that are fairly priced have received the most interest.”
Buying an aircraft is an important decision encompassing many variables that go well beyond the purchase itself. Buyers should consider working with a reputable broker who can provide expertise adapted to the local ecosystem, while accounting for aircraft supply and macroeconomic aspects that may impact the timing of the purchase.
In fact, chartering before buying is preferred by some, allowing the would-be buyer time to understand how full aircraft ownership would meet their travel needs. Jetcraft believes that there are several buyers who will continue ‘testing the skies’ with charter first.
“As we expected, after the high [pre-owned] trading levels of 2021 where Light Jets saw a significant increase in demand to cater for domestic travel, 2022 saw an 18% drop in total transaction volume,” Joubert shares.
“However, during the remainder of 2023 and throughout our five-year forecast period, the number of pre-owned transactions is expected to grow steadily again and exceed previous by 2027. That represents an average increase of 4.7% a year.”
United Aircraft Sales anticipates that the 2024 pre-owned jet market will experience growth in demand, fueled by limited inventory, high prices, and economic volatility. “In the African context, the inventory is set to evolve towards value-oriented and role-specific aircraft,” Howarth projects. “Long Range Jets should maintain their popularity.
“Overall, the market is on track for maturation, adapting to nuanced buyer preferences and stakeholder needs,” he says.
Overlying regulatory conditions should continue to play a role in aircraft purchases in Africa with bureaucracy preventing the full potential for investment from being unlocked – especially investment in newer aircraft that may enter the market.
“Authorities can take steps to better support market stability, in turn helping facilitate purchases,” Joubert underlines. “But we’re already seeing buyers settling into the current market realities, gaining confidence, and proceeding with their acquisition plans.”
Howarth believes that to boost the aviation market and make aircraft purchases easier in Africa, authorities could take several targeted steps, including lowering import duties, simplifying registration and exchange control processes, and revising aviation regulations for greater efficiency.
“Additional strategies might involve infrastructure investment, tax incentives for aircraft ownership, more accessible financing for older aircraft, and fostering the growth of the General Aviation supply chain.”
Ultimately, heading in to 2024, the pre-owned aircraft sales market in Africa remains strong but there are some buyers who are waiting for things to stabilize before proceeding with their purchases.
Having the right aircraft broker, with local knowledge and a global market perspective will be vital, Joubert concludes. That way, whether you plan to step into the market in 2024 or wait it out a while longer to make your purchase, you’ll have informed insights into when that time is right.
More information from:
United Aircraft Sales: https://unitedaircraftsales.com