Will the 2024 US presidential election hit business jet sales?
There is a common perception in the business aviation industry that the number of transactions tend to decline in the years with US Presidential Elections. Some brokers believe potential buyers tend to take up the wait and see approach before making any investment decisions during the months leading up to elections.
But we did some number crunching and did not find enough evidence to support this.
During the last eight US Presidential elections, total number of transactions (for both pre-owned and new deliveries) have only declined twice. Once in 2008 – which was mostly due to the global financial crisis – and in 2016. Other than these two outliers, the total number of business jet transactions have increased by an average of 5% year-on-year during the remainder of six US election years.
Some brokers even believe that US elections have in fact given a boost to their business. When asked about his outlook for 2024 during a panel at the Corporate Jet Investor Miami Conference in 2023, Brian Proctor, CEO, Mente Group, said he was looking forward to 2024 especially because it is an election year.
“Our best years have been election years in the US, which is kind of crazy. But because of the election cycle, sometimes that creates a little bit of ambiguity and pricing tends to move. And … whenever there’s a situation like that, then there’s potential opportunity to buy an undervalued asset,” said Proctor. “Election years tend to be our best years.”
Other brokers at the CJI Miami panel said the rising costs, high interest rates and geopolitical tensions may dampen demand going forward in the long term but this is not going to really impact transaction flow during 2024.
“You got some crazy stuff going on in the world with geopolitical stuff. Massive interest rate [hikes], you know, increases in a short period of time that are causing some businesses to be affected. But I think by and large, our owner base has deep pockets and are less affected. Private flying is a priority of theirs that are not going to give up easily,” said Chris Ellis, co-founder, Avpro. “But I think  with the election year and some of the geopolitical stuff, there’s reasons to be cautious, but you know, when on the ground every day and every week and every month, you feel demand. It gives you some, you know, encouragement,”
With ongoing war in Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East, some business aviation brokers argue that the geopolitical tensions may cause a demand slowdown. But some brokers argue that the momentum build-up from post-Covid demand is still continuing in full swing and geopolitical tensions may spur it further.
“We had demand that came along as a result of the pandemic that created the largest first time buyer segment we ever had. But one of the things as we look at the geopolitical, strife in our world right now that has never been like this,” said Jay Mesinger, founder, MesingerJetSales. “I think we’re going to see a demand come up as a result of that and the fear of being on the airlines, not from catching, COVID, but not wanting to expose themselves to dangers that we haven’t seen in a long time in our world, frankly. So I think that’s going to continue demand.”
Although there are reasons for concern especially due to the high interest rates which can lead to investors delaying their new purchases for the time being, all signs point to a strong demand in 2024.