The sky above Dave Higdon’s Wichita office provides a simple gauge on flight activity in the area, and, from his daily observations, activity seems to be rising. But what does it all mean for Business Aviation sales?
Production test pilots are busy wringing out their factories' output. The delivery centers continue making deliveries. And factory output seems able to sustain the pace of aircraft shipments. But new business jet sales aren't exactly experiencing major growth right now.
Still, the used jet and turboprop market remains tight, with the number of aircraft listed ‘For Sale’ drying up and making it harder to find the ideal candidate a prospect wants.
Yet the best news for Business Aviation today isn't how many new jets the factories sell, or even the continued decline in the pool of used jets available ‘For Sale’.
The big news comes from among the users themselves. Their useage continues to show solid growth as the calendar approaches Q4 2018.
And more flying usually helps drive more sales downstream - which is exactly what the market needs.
A Near-Universal Trend...
The year's quarterly reports kicked off with JSSI finding that average month business aircraft utilization reached 27.97 hours per airplane, the highest average level in any Q1 since 2008.
Q2 numbers were up, too, as were more regional reports from Europe. This growth parallels increased airline travel, pointing towards an overall gain in business activity around the world.
More people doing more business and getting there via business aircraft points toward a new airplane market destined to increase in the next few years.
Seeing the gains in flight activity helps increase optimism and confidence in the future market, and that's seldom a bad thing.
The Unheralded Threat
Of course, tomorrow is an unknown, despite good indications and feel-good observations.
It doesn't take much to upset an apple cart like Business Aviation, and the world is dancing on the edge of some of those influences right now, including a growing trade war between the US that could yet knock the market out of gear with unhappy outcomes.
And there remains enough global hostility to keep parts of the world destabilized for years to come. But the current signs that we should feel good, and the accompanying optimism isn't hurting other businesses.
The stock market remains a bull market and, after years of waiting, wages are creeping upward.
Let's all hope that this trade war gets dialed back and free trade once again becomes the standard for global commerce. The opposite can't help but hurt in the long run.