Rating the business jet market – first half of 2024 report


If you want the macro view, the year 2024 is already more than halfway through its trip round the sun. On a more micro level, holidays are here for the northern Hemisphere. Many people are out of the office and the US celebrated Independence Day this week. But just as school children get a half-year report, it is a good time to check out how the first six months of the year have been for business aviation.

Traffic – B

There are two ways of looking at traffic data. US traffic for the year is down 1% on a strong 2023, according to WingX. Compared with the 2022 post-lockdown peak US business aviation is down about 6%. Europe business jet flights are down 2% versus the first half of 2023.

But rather than focusing on this, it is worth comparing with before Covid 19. WingX says that US business jet traffic is up 28.9% compared with the first six months of 2019. The big winners  in the US are super mid-size jets (up 50.3%), turboprops (47.3%), ultra-long range (45.6%) and very-light jets (39.1%).

European business aviation flights are up 7.5% in 2024 compared with the first six months of 2019.

Traffic alone is not a guaranteed sign of a strong industry (it is possible to fly a lot and lose money) but it is an important metric for maintenance providers and OEMs. Who also have a lot to be happy about.

Aircraft and engine manufacturers – A-

Business jet manufacturers are not showing any signs of wanting to suddenly increase  deliveries. Some of this discipline is because supply chains are still catching up. To be fair, this is also because all of the senior managers at manufacturers vividly remember what happened after the global financial crisis when they had an oversupply of aircraft.

As well as building jets, they are also continuing to sell decent numbers at good prices. Demand for new aircraft is down from 2022 but the first-quarter results were very good. It seems likely that book-to-build ratios could fall in the fourth quarter, especially as production ramps up. But it has been a good six months.

Pre-owned market and residual values – C

The state of the pre-owned market is more balanced. The number of business jets for sale has risen significantly, In June 2023 Amstat listed 1,019 business jets for sale. Now it says there are 1,203 on the market. But this is not a massive rise.

The percentage of aircraft for sale is still relatively low. Amstat says that 7.65% of large jets are for sale, 7.22% of medium jets and 6.12% of light jets. This means the market was still balanced at the end of June 2024. Aircraft are not depreciating as you would expect.

Perhaps the biggest worry is that experienced brokers – many of whom have had a good start to the year – are finding it hard to predict what will happen in the next six months, let alone in 2025.

Fractional operators – A+

“Our biggest challenge in 2024 is beating 2023,” says Andrew Collins, co-chair of Flexjet, speaking from Flexjet’s new owner’s lounge in Mayfair, London. Like other fractionals, Flexjet has quietly been investing in new corporate headquarters, buying maintenance and interiors companies, and selling a lot aircraft shares. WingX says that fractional fleets are flying more flight hours than at any time in the  past five years.

Fractional operators are also increasingly important to manufacturers. NetJets has been unveiled as the customer who placed this order in December order for the 12 Challenger 3500 jets. It now has 232 Challenger 3,500 options outstanding. Fractional operators are also set to benefit from owners looking for privacy.

As everyone know, things can change quickly. Looking at the market in June 2007 would have felt very similar (and everyone knows what happened then). The first six months have been pretty good. A sudden economic downturn would, of course, change things very quickly – but worry about that when you are back from holiday. 


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