Does Sustainability Impact Pre-Owned Aircraft Sales?

Brian Foley shares some need-to-know information about Business Aviation sustainability, offering some thoughts on how it impacts pre-owned aircraft sales...

Brian Foley  |  09th October 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...

    Sustainability and pre-owned business jets


    There has been a lot written lately on the topic of sustainability in the industry, and it’s not going away. Efforts are underway in many countries to reduce the world’s carbon footprint.

    Of all the global sources of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), the transportation sector emits 13% of the overall greenhouse gases. Of this, 10% comes from road vehicles and 1% from rail and shipping. The remaining 2% is from aviation, of which Business Aviation contributes 0.04% (no, that is not a typo) of worldwide yearly CO2 emissions.

    So, it may seem peculiar that Business Aviation is a target of climate activists when it’s such a small overall contributor.

    The reasons, of course, include getting more press coverage defacing a multi-million-dollar airplane than, say, a bus; calling out the affluent (for whom the larger public has little sympathy); getting some reaction from the industry; and because of the high CO2 emissions emitted on a per-passenger basis on small business aircraft with relatively few seats.

    The larger aviation industry is pledging to become carbon neutral by the year 2050, meaning that it will eventually reduce its carbon footprint to zero. This will be accomplished through several schemes, including the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) made from renewable plant-based and waste resources and improved propulsion technology such as electric and hydrogen power.

    Users of aviation can also buy Carbon Offsets, many of which are investments in projects to remove CO2 from the atmosphere (e.g., tree-planting or building carbon capture facilities).

    Still one more, Carbon Credits, are designed for large corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the amount of CO2 a company can emit. A company exceeding its limit could buy additional credits from another company that’s below its carbon allotment.

    How Sustainability Could Affect Pre-Owned Sales

    Some of this may affect the business jet pre-owned market, and irrespective of what you think of the various schemes, at a minimum aircraft brokers should develop a solid awareness of the topic to better inform their clients.

    As an example, some companies’ environmental stewardship is measured by how much CO2 their corporation emits overall, which would include their flight departments. Directing them to a more fuel-efficient plane for their mission could possibly improve their score in this regard.

    Similarly, if they are high-profile individuals or businesses where a news article on their private jet use could become a PR nightmare, they could be coached to consider buying a little bit of SAF, or a modest carbon offset for their flights.

    This would provide them a similar alibi to what Bill Gates famously uses when challenged on his use of his private jets. “I’m comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the carbon offsets, but that I’m part of the solution.” (sic)

    Industry Beneficiaries from the Sustainability Drive

    There will be potential industry benefactors from these environmental developments as well. I believe that fractional and charter firms have a bright future as some Part 91 corporations and individuals begin to sell their private jets and move to the anonymity provided by these fleet operators.

    This reduces their risk of being outed in public, such as the Taylor Swift jet-use outcry, or the infamous cross-city hop in a business jet by a Kardashian. Had they been flying on, say, a NetJets fractional aircraft or a Jet Lynx charter plane, they would have been virtually undetectable.

    Why Brokers Should Educate Pre-Owned Buyers on Sustainability

    To continue reading this article and the rest of the Market Indicators section in the AvBuyer October digital edition, click the button below…

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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 Forbes.com 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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