Business Aviation Market Overview – March 2023

Various indicators are confirming the Business Aviation market peak has passed. Brian Foley offers insights...

Brian Foley  |  02nd March 2023
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    Brian Foley
    Brian Foley

    Brian Foley formed Brian Foley Associates (BRiFO) in 2006 to assist aerospace firms and investors with...

    Hawker 800 private jet flying above clouds

    Metrics across the board are now confirming what many of us in the Business Aviation industry have already known: the market is slowing down. Fortunately, it’s a very subtle change and not an abrupt decline as was seen during the Great Recession of 2009 and the early days of Covid-19 in 2020.

    The surge in private aviation usage over the past couple of years was meaningfully driven by first-time, well-heeled private flyers who were looking for an alternative to the crowded airports and reduced airline service during the pandemic.

    But now, with monetary tightening starting to slow the economy and the possibility of recession, many of these newbies are returning to their Economy-Plus seats on the airlines.

    One indicator suggesting the peak has passed is business jet utilization, or the number of take-offs and landings, which stopped growing during the last half of 2022 in the US.

    For instance, comparing December 2022 with December 2021 showed activity was down around 7%, with charter (Part 135), fractional (Part 91K) and private (Part 91) activity declining across the board. Despite this, calendar year 2022 utilization was still 5% higher than 2021, and 18% above 2019.

    Pre-Owned Inventory

    Similarly, pre-owned aircraft inventory, measured as the percent of the active fleet for sale, bounced off its historical low set in Q2 2022 and has been gradually trending upwards ever since.

    The lack of supply caused a meteoric rise in pre-owned aircraft pricing, at one point increasing 65% year-over-year on a rolling three-month average. Now with the cooling market and increasing inventory, prices have stopped rising logarithmically. Instead they’ve begun wavering and are anticipated to fall soon, which also signals the top of a market.

    The International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA) reports 2022 pre-owned transactions were flat compared with 2021. I believe that when the figures are eventually included for non-IADA members too, there will have been a slight downturn in used transactions during 2022.

    New Aircraft Orders

    On the new aircraft side, in early 2022 manufacturers had been reporting typical book-to-bill ratios of 2:1, meaning two new aircraft orders received for each delivery.

    By the end of 2022, that figure had softened to around 1.5:1 for most manufacturers, which is still a very healthy order intake, ensuring backlogs continue to grow for the time being.

    A Measured Respite?

    What’s encouraging is that this softening, while inevitable, isn’t sudden or catastrophic but rather a measured respite. Not all first-time aviation users have left the market, and I believe those remaining will add around 10% to future industry performance.

    This means that Business Aviation segments such as charter, fractional ownership, MRO shops, FBOs, services, pre-owned and new aircraft sales will generally enjoy a 10% better book of business going forward.

    Not Without Risk

    While a recession will put the brakes on nearly any industry, there are a couple of additional risks unique to ours.

    To discover what these risks are, and read the rest of the March Business Aviation Market Overview, click the button below to read digitally.

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    Brian Foley

    Brian Foley

    Editor, Market Intelligence

    Brian Foley formed Brian Foley Associates (BRiFO) in 2006 to assist aerospace firms and investors with strategic research. In addition to his work as Market Intelligence Editor, AvBuyer, he is a regular contributor for and his views are published in the media worldwide.

    Currently, Brian serves the Transportation Research Board as a member of the Business Aviation, helicopter, commercial airline and UAV system subcommittees, and he previously served on the Wall Street financial firm Board.

    Before starting his consultancy business, Brian was marketing director at Dassault Falcon Jet for 20 years, and started his career at Boeing. He is an instrument-rated private pilot.



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