The rich are getting richer – and they’re fueling the private jet boom
Demand for private jets is booming – as companies can’t produce them fast enough and buyers face extended wait times for deliveries.
Even used business jets are disappearing from the market.
“If you look at today compared to 2019, the market has almost exploded,” John Schmidt, head of the global aerospace and defense industry at consulting firm Accenture, told CNBC at the show. Dubai Aeronautics.
The pandemic has converted many travelers to private flying, many for the first time. But analysts say the trend is mostly driven by a wealth boom over the past year and a half, especially at the upper echelons of society as more companies go public, as the stock market hits. record highs and spenders benefit from a long period of low interest rates.
Business jet take-offs and landings in the United States increased 40% year-on-year – and at their highest level since before the 2008 financial crisis, according to Morgan Stanley.
Public listings of companies in the United States have already reached record highs in 2021. Data from Jefferies Equity Research shows that as IPO activity increased, so did the volume of aircraft deliveries from business increased accordingly.
The market is also attracting individual buyers looking for safer and more exclusive travel that guarantees greater reliability than commercial flights, which have been hampered by the travel regulations of Covid-19.
Amid increasing demand in the premium industry and rising inflation, prices for new and used jets are reaching their highest levels in years.
Used aircraft inventory – the proportion of aircraft for sale to the number of such aircraft in the world – is at an all-time high, around or below 3% for most major aircraft manufacturers , including Cessna, Dassault, Gulfstream, Bombardier and Embraer, says Jefferies.
Private flight activity is not only up in the United States, but also 20% higher in Europe, Schmidt said. “Things are really tight in used business jets, the lowest inventory we’ve seen in years, and yet the prices are 20-30% higher,” he added. “So it’s a very hot market right now.”
New entrants to the private jet market now represent more than 30% of buyers, according to a recent report from Goldman Sachs. For Embraer’s Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Friedrich, what stands out is the growing consumer base.
“The addressable business jet market has grown now. The pie has grown,” Friedrich said. “And the result is over 12% continued wealth creation when you look at billionaires around the world, but also what was traditionally Fortune 100 and big private companies.”
“People are looking for ways to become more productive, more secure in the missions they have to accomplish,” he added, describing business aviation as a “productivity tool”.
“Can you fly directly from New York to Muscle Shoals, Alabama on a commercial flight? No,” Friedrich said. For companies or individuals with the wealth of owning a business jet, the trips that would take a full day of travel are reduced to a few hours.
The cabin pressurization of business jets is also significantly less than that of commercial airliners – for some it is less than half. This difference means passengers feel significantly less tired upon landing, making multiple stops and meetings in town considerably easier. Embraer’s flagship, the Praetor 600, has a cabin altitude of 5,800 feet while Dassault’s Falcon 6X has a cabin altitude of 3,900 feet. Compare that to an average cabin altitude of up to 8,000 feet for commercial jets.
Private jet charter company VistaJet reported a 29% increase in the number of new members over the past year, with 71% of new requests coming from passengers who had not previously used private aviation.
It also found that more than half of its new private aviation users – 53% – would continue to regularly fly privately after the pandemic.
Wealth creation since the pandemic has been markedly uneven, with U.S. billionaires getting richer by around 62% – earning more than $ 1.8 trillion – since March 2020, according to the U.S. think tank Institute for Policy Studies.
Private jets were fairly common at the COP26 climate summit in November, drawing sharp criticism from environmental activists, who say 1% of air travelers are responsible for 50% of the industry’s carbon emissions.
A recent report by the European campaign group Transport & Environment found that private jets pollute 5 to 14 times more per passenger than commercial planes and that in an hour a single private jet can emit two tonnes of CO2. The group also found that in Europe alone, CO2 emissions from private jets increased by 31% between 2005 and 2019, outpacing growth in emissions from commercial jets.
Industry leaders say sustainability is becoming a key priority for their companies. Embraer has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, and charter business jet supplier VistaJet is aiming for the same by 2050.
To this end, some carriers are starting to use sustainable aviation fuels, or SAFs, which generate 80% less CO2 emissions over their entire lifecycle than fossil fuels. But the pickup has been slow so far.
This is because sustainable aviation fuels are expensive and difficult to obtain, Accenture’s Schmidt said, although there are currently more than 20 locations around the world where sustainable aviation fuels can be found. . Private jet charter service NetJets celebrated a year of SAF use in November, having flown 2.5 million nautical miles on the cleaner fuel.
“I see (SAF) as the next step in sustainability for business aviation, followed by new programs, new engines and the pursuit of technologies to drive sustainability,” Schmidt said.
There are 3.7 billion gallons of SAF in forward purchase contracts, according to the International Air Transport Association. Twenty-six million gallons of SAF will be produced in 2021, and some 45 airlines have experience using these fuels. More than 370,000 flights have been carried out with SAF since 2016.
“What we found was that we knew it was good business to make sure we had a sustainable product,” said Friedrich d’Embraer. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. It’s the right thing to do for the company.”
The years to come will tell if corporate promises translate into long-term change. But given the surge in private flights, which industry analysts expect to continue, any substantial reduction in the damage they cause is likely a long way off.