Seller Questions: How to Market an Aircraft

If you’re considering selling your private aircraft, the first thing to do is get the marketing right. René Armas Maes shares three key areas to consider when positioning your aircraft against the competition for sale.

René Armas Maes  |  06th September 2022
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    René Armas Maes
    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international...

    Seller Questions: How to Market an Aircraft

    Before any aircraft can be sold, it stands to reason that a suitable buyer must be found. Doing so will require an excellent marketing strategy, and a budget must be allocated for optimizing the results, minimizing the asset’s idle time which can be costly for the seller.

    Marketing an aircraft is a thorough process consisting of many steps. Some sellers may prefer to make their aircraft available off-market initially. Typically, this process is executed using a seller’s own network (word of mouth), and a dedicated broker.

    More typically, sellers select a dealer or broker to market their aircraft via print and online platforms. Preferably, the chosen platforms should offer global exposure, with the ability to publish a selection of pictures and videos.

    Sellers should also require their aircraft to be advertised on platforms that support online listings with e-marketing alerts, and priority placement opportunities to position their aircraft ahead of others in a buyer’s search.

    Sellers working with a dealer or broker will need to sign a written agreement outlining exclusivity rights (or not), the timeline of the service rendered, and what the commission for sale of the aircraft will be.

    While marketing strategies can differ, depending on who owns the aircraft (i.e. a private individual or a large aircraft management company), any successful marketing strategy must consider the following points…

    1 Understand the Pre-Owned Market

    According to AMSTAT, as of May 2022 the global inventory of pre-owned business jets and turboprops was down 49% and 48% respectively, year-over-year. Only 3.4% (business jets) and 2.8% (turboprops) of the active fleet was for sale as of the first week of June.

    The 20-year monthly average for business jets and turboprops for sale is 12% and 9.6%, respectively. Thus, of this writing the opportunity to market and sell a well-maintained asset within a couple of months are much higher than they were a couple of years ago when the pre-owned inventory was higher.

    This should serve to demonstrate how understanding the pre-owned market will help you to come up with a sound marketing and sale strategy.

    Moreover, sellers should allow their broker to keep them abreast of pricing trends for their aircraft type, the number of make/model units available for sale (by year of manufacture), and the total flying time of the aircraft compared to other assets, since this will highlight what features to focus on in the marketing campaign.

    What do the other comparable aircraft for sale offer in terms of cabin layout, connectivity and entertainment systems, and flight deck features? As a seller, is your aircraft better equipped than the competition?

    An experienced broker in the market will provide reliable information relating to aircraft pricing (both historical and current), and be able to draw from a variety of sources in doing so, ensuring when you market your aircraft, it will neither be priced offputtingly high, nor suspiciously low.

    2 Aircraft Type, Production Rate & Manufacturer Support

    As a seller, your aircraft’s type production rates for the last 10 years matter. Has there been any subsequent upgrades launched by the manufacturer (i.e. Bombardier Challenger 300 to Challenger 350).

    Between the Challenger 300 and Challenger 350, Bombardier has produced 856 units, compared to its closest Super Mid-Size Jet competitor (470 units).

    For sellers, understanding where the aircraft stands in the marketplace, its production rate, and whether new upgraded versions are planned (Challenger 3500), or have hit the market already, is important as it will impact the valuation.

    Additionally, an aircraft model with more than 850 units in operation will be well supported by a strong MRO network, whereas an aircraft that saw a production run of fewer than 100 units is less likely to be well supported for parts and maintenance needs – certainly in the longer-term – impacting valuation of the product.

    For out-of-production aircraft, sellers should seek to understand the OEM’s commitment to provide spare parts in the longer-term. The ask price, and buyer interest will both depend on this question.

    3 Product Marketability

    Take time to evaluate what buyers are looking for, and the aircraft features that may command a premium. Often, highly customized features, interiors and paint schemes work against sellers.

    Evaluate what other benefits the airplane offers, helping to increase its marketability. Would a cabin or cockpit refresh enhance value? Sellers will need to take time to assess what items are attractive to potential buyer.

    For example, if your aircraft is 15 years old, buyers are unlikely to want connectivity from the same era. Either plan on accepting offers reflecting the cost of an upgrade, or consider undertaking the upgrade yourself.

    Don’t overlook the importance of hourly maintenance programs. Given the unpredictable and high cost of engine and APU maintenance in particular, it is important to have these items enrolled, offering assurances to buyers that there are no expensive surprises lurking around the corner.

    Hourly maintenance programs can also help enhance aircraft residual value by ensuring engines, and the other components covered, are maintained to the highest standard.

    In Summary…

    To put together a sound marketing and sales strategy, understanding and segmenting the market is key. A fair market value of the aircraft, based on actual market conditions, should be established.

    Meanwhile, it’s essential for sellers to take a step back and remove any emotional value they might place on the aircraft. Try to see the aircraft as a buyer would see it.

    The aircraft’s equipment should not be overlooked within this assessment, and future regulatory requirements may also necessitate equipment upgrades either at your, or the buyer’s expense.

    Finally, once you’re actively marketing your aircraft, continue to closely monitor the market at least on a monthly basis. Allow your experienced dealer/broker to guide you, and be flexible enough to ‘move with the times’ in terms of upward or downward price adjustments.

    Read Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 of this Seller Questions series:

    Seller Questions Part 2: Tips for Negotiating Price

    Seller Questions Part 3: Agreeing Aircraft Sale Contracts

    Seller Questions Part 4: Concluding a Jet Sale

    Do you have a specific aircraft maintenance, upgrade or repair need?

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    René Armas Maes

    René Armas Maes

    Editor, Buyer Strategy & Finance

    René Armas Maes, Vice President, Commercial, Jet Link International LLC, is an international aviation consultant and experienced C-Level professional. He has built a successful track record for developing and delivering Business Aviation strategies for Fortune 500 companies, Venture Capital firms, and HNWIs.

    René is a regular columnist for Bloomberg (financial), America Economia (business) and a speaker at aviation conferences worldwide.



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