Private jet registrations show ‘unexpected’ rise in Western Europe
Private jet registrations have shown an unexpected rise in Western Europe, according to research by jet broker Colibri Aircraft. There are about 2,444 pre-owned private jets registered in Western Europe compared with 2,414 in 2020 and 2,344 in 2019.
Oliver Stone, Colibri Aircraft MD told Corporate Jet Investor: “Given how much more severe the lockdowns were in Europe than in the USA, it is impressive that over the course of Covid and the Covid recovery the fleet of aircraft has grown. This was unexpected, particularly in the middle to end of last year when travel across borders was still widely not done in Europe.”
Three main factors accounted for the buoyant performance. Those were the much-reduced airline service, Covid-19 hesitancy plus border times and liquidity looking for a home. Airlines are still operating at only about 60% of previous capacity, point-to-point travel is hard to serve on airlines and private jets are able to provide this, according to Colibri.
Also, Covid hesitancy is making high-net worth individuals (HNWI) reluctant to spend time in crowds when travelling, even though vaccination rates in most of western Europe are very high. Plus, Covid border requirements mean that entry into countries is frequently time-consuming and more easily circumvented by flying privately, Stone told CJI.
The third reason underpinning registrations was the huge amounts of liquidity in the system looking for a home. “Most asset prices are at all-time highs and, as a result, many individuals and corporations have recently had large liquidity moments and private jets are a frequent purchase after liquidity events.”
Germany has the largest fleet of registered private jets with 485 followed by the UK (including the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) with 453. Austria has 222 private jet registrations, Malta 214 and France has 169, revealed Colibri’s research.
Germany’s dominant position is unsurprising, given its large population of HNWIs and its location. “Germany’s geography is particularly well suited to light jets covering 90% of most routes,” said Stone. “Light and medium sized planes have been the true winners in the past 18 months and Germany is perfect for the light to mid-size jet segment. The combination of wealth, travel needs and Covid led to a large increase in its fleet.”
Brexit has left demand from UK buyers unaffected. But buyers were giving much more scrutiny to which registration they operate their aircraft on, and if the UK register poses problems for their planned operations
“Covid’s impact paused the whole business for about eight weeks and then the business came roaring back with a strength that no one has ever seen before,” said Stone. “The lasting memory (but not lasting characteristic) will be one of aircraft shortages, bidding wars and rapidly rising prices.”
Across Western Europe, buyers are retaining ownership of their aircraft while the market has seen new companies and people looking to buy their first jets. Meanwhile, pictured is a 2014 Cessna Citation Mustang offered for sale by Colibri Aircraft at $1.95m.
European countries with the largest fleet of registered private jets
*UK (including Isle of Man, Guernsey & Jersey): 453
*Czech Republic: 66
Source: Colibri Aircraft.