Originally published as a blog for AINsight for Aviation International News on 6/3/22
I was talking to an aviation attorney recently and we were lamenting about the difficulty of buying a preowned business aircraft in today’s environment. Forget the pricing that has continually been creeping up, because that is truly a manifestation of high demand and low supply. The real problems are the processes of the transaction.
Even at these unprecedented price levels, sellers are now also demanding a greatly shortened closing time, mostly created by the inability to perform a comprehensive pre-buy inspection or no inspection at all.
So if a buyer hires an aircraft broker and/or attorney as guides and they steer them away from these processes and even steer them to sit on the sidelines for a few months watching what I think is inevitable—a market shift based on so many headwind factors—that will be good for the buyers.
I must say that when we, as brokers, are hired by sellers in today’s market, we get assurances from them that they will allow what is a more usual and customary process, including a full pre-buy inspection. After all, if the buyers are willing to pay the price, which is also a factor in today’s market, there is no reason for a seller not to allow a full pre-buy in conjunction with the higher prices.
If enough buyers start to sit on the fence, the sellers will not have any benefit from today’s pricing. Buyers will just wait until both eventualities occur—lower prices and usual and customary processes. In that case, no one is winning.
Good buyers are not buying, which is what they really want to do, and sellers are not selling, which of course is their goal. You may think that is not the case, but more and more airplanes are coming to market and the days on market for many are increasing.
Creating a standstill is bad for business. Creating unbalanced transactions is also not only bad for the short term but also for the long-term viability of our wonderful industry.
We as stewards of our industry should take the lead in guiding for success. After all, who but us are better at providing this guidance? Those people who are still adding to the demand will not all go away even in a market that may be weakened by outside factors such as fuel prices, interest rates, the threat of recession, and geopolitical events. Many of the first-time buyers, as well as corporate operators, will still be anxious to buy or modernize their existing fleets.
I am excited to see corporate operators come back into the mix. They have been sitting out this process during what has been a long stretch created by the pandemic. They are starting to fly again, and they will certainly be coming back in.
This will bring added inventory to the mix, which will help ease the high demand and low supply calculus. This is another reason more sellers need to heed the future and begin on their own to create healthy pathways to a successful transaction.
My writing and pontificating is honestly meant to soften the landing of what I know to be a shift in our market. The pendulum always swings back. As trusted advisors, we need to do our part in guiding clients into this posture. It is good for us all, as well as the entire buying and selling community.
Well, here we are at another summertime. I hope we all start to poke our heads out a bit more and travel a bit more and enjoy a safer environment inside and outside of our industry.