Having just returned from GAMA’s “State of the Industry” address I can safely report that for those who like consistency 2016 is going to look a lot like 2010-2015. Well, maybe a bit more blah.
The business aviation industry has been in the doldrums since the economic debacle of late 2008 with only pinpoints of light that shined periodically throughout. Not one single element that helped give rise to hope was able to sustain a momentum which would turn aircraft sales around and put them on an upward trajectory. When the press finally takes a hard look at what has happened to the aircraft sales industry and stop churning out sound bites from various industry groups that say everything is alright (for the moment) or not bad (re: surviving), maybe then our global leaders will recognize how devastated the industry has been and we can all get around to working collectively at fixing the problem. It was refreshing to hear the leaders of GAMA cite the needs and reason for a continuing decline in aircraft sales instead of spinning rhetoric: small businesses need to return to the buying fold and confidence across the board needs to be restored. While not all the news was what we wanted to hear, it was an honest assessment of the market for aircraft.
Impediments to a recovery abound. Election years in the United States are historically slow years for aircraft sales because the market does not like uncertainty. This year will most assuredly prove to be no exception as our election process will be anything, but blah. Drawing the small and midcap, both public and privately held, companies back to the aircraft marketplace will be a herculean task given the fear-mongering going on. A downturn in the energy sector will more adversely impact the aviation industry than thought. Ripple effects from the fallout in the energy sector impact a variety of businesses and the fear and actual loss of jobs spreads. While everyone likes cheap gas now, the long term outcome is likely not going to be pleasant. Threats to free-flight in the U.S. in the form of a legacy making bill seeking to privatize ATC only increase the downward pressure on sales. After all, if access to the 5000 plus airports available to general aviation aircraft is diminished then some of the added-value of ownership goes away. Blah on the special interest groups seeking to control instead of leaving air traffic operations in the public domain!
After a long hiatus from writing my blog, I am returning with this commentary on the state of our industry…and well the proliferation of blogs and posts that seem to have overwhelmed the airwaves in the past year. My hiatus was self-imposed due to demanding work commitments and admittedly a bit of writer’s block. My objective from the beginning has always been to present a mostly light-hearted, articulate discourse on a variety of aviation topics without ever stumping for myself or churning out material just because. In my year sabbatical, I reflected on where to take the blog so as not to bore. In what has become a flood of blah, blah, blah on all sorts of social media and publication web sites, differentiating oneself in the blogging business is becoming a lot like doing so in the aircraft sales industry. Added value content is applicable regardless of the arena. That being said, beware this Ides of March baby!