Does NBAA attendance mean bad news for the business jet market?


NBAA Exhibitors vs Attendance

As anyone who walked the halls last week can tell you, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) 65th Annual Meeting & Convention is a big show. The NBAA say that 25,250 people attended and 1,073 companies exhibited the 2012 convention held last week in Orlando, Florida. Whilst this is still an impressive amount of people it is actually the third lowest attendance in the last 10 years. The 2012 event was slightly smaller than 2011 and is 23% down on the show’s record attendance in 2006.

The fall in 2012 attendance was affected by events unrelated to the show. First, the NBAA had to deal with a temporary flight restriction for the Orlando area on Sunday evening and Monday morning because of a visit by President Barrack Obama to the city. It then lost more people when Hurricane Sandy stopped them from flying down to Florida.

“We’re delighted that, especially given those challenges, convention participants reported strong traffic on the exhibit floor and at the aircraft static displays, along with a high level of enthusiasm among Attendees,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of NBAA.

Bolen is also right to focus on exhibitor satisfaction rather than numbers. Exhibitors are more interested in the quality of delegates than the overall number. Meeting a potential customer is obviously more valuable than spending time with a competitor.

Does NBAA attendance provide a guide to the state of business aviation?

Rather than looking at one year in isolation – particularly when external events like Hurricane Sandy can skew attendance – we looked at the last 10 years to see if NBAA attendance can provide a guide to the state of the industry.

Comparing NBAA attendance with Bombardier’s estimate of orders shows that attendance has tended to track orders relatively well.

NBAA delegate attendance

NBAA 2012 attendance
Source: NBAA/Corporate Jet Investor

Business jet orders and deliveries:

Bombardier figures
Source: Bombardier

Deliveries lag orders and as the chart belows shows that there is little connection between deliveries and show attendance.

Attendance and business jet deliveries:

NBAA attendance (visitors) vs deliveries
Source: Bombardier

However, there is a closer relationship (albeit with limited data) between the number of exhibitors and business jet deliveries. Deliveries reached a low in 2011 but are expected to be similar in 2012. Exhibitor numbers between 2011 and 2012 were also fairly similar.

Exhibitors and business jet deliveries:

NBAA Exhibitors vs Attendance
Source: Bombardier

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