Calling the bottom for aircraft sales

May 31, 2012

Is there a “new normal” in the aviation market?

That question has been asked time and again about the state of public- and private-sector economies as turbulent times roil markets and shake the foundations of conventional economic thinking.

In the aviation marketplace, some aircraft dealers are expressing new optimism, even as prices continue to slip, says Vref, an aviation industry source of aircraft value reference based in Cottonwood, Ariz.

Vref's second quarterly 2012 newsletter “Market Leader,” notes that jet values continue to slip in three size categories during what the publication described as one of the most prolonged downturns “and probably the sketchiest recovery in memory.”

But, says Vref, there are signs that the impact has not been entirely bad for the industry, because it forced change. As information—including price guidance—has become available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the aviation market has adapted. Consumers have become better informed, and the free flow of information has brought parties together to do business.

Despite the tough times for jets, piston singles and twins have shown price stability, although selling an aircraft can still be challenging. There’s a price “sweet spot” between $100,000 and $200,000 for squawk-free aircraft such as Bonanzas, Cessna 210s, and Piper Seneca twins, Vref said.

The newsletter mused on whether to call a bottom to turboprop prices.

In any case, conditions have forced change in the marketplace, “closing the doors on the old ways forever,” it said.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.