As the proverb goes, a fool and his money are soon parted. It appears that at least some new private jet purchasers are already experiencing buyer’s regret. Some people are even selling planes that they recently purchased. It’s a counterpoint to the countless stories about how charter operators profit from first-time private travelers looking to avoid COVID-19 exposure or who can’t get where they need to go as quickly as they used to due to reduced airline schedules. In those circumstances, 96 percent said they intend to fly privately after the outbreak.
“I’ve already received two calls from folks who purchased in the first half of 2020 and are now ready to sell. A client of mine bought a Phenom 300… Kerry Dowling, an aviation attorney who specializes in transactions, said, “He was gung-ho…now he is stung by the cost of managing and operating the aircraft because he isn’t flying it enough.”
She echoed the sentiments of other participants and panelists during a Corporate Jet Investor Town Hall. Rich people who don’t know what they’re doing and are desperate to purchase a private plane are learning the hard way that what they didn’t know can be costly. In certain circumstances, the costs are exorbitant, necessitating the sale of the aircraft they recently purchased. Upgrades and maintenance on older private jets with appealing price tags can cost millions of dollars.
“Each time an aircraft is flown, there will be between 10 and 15 bills to process,” according to MySky, a spend-management software. Due to the intricacies of invoicing and inherent inefficiencies in the private aviation industry, there might be a three-month delay between a flight and payment of invoices.”
Those bills are causing issues for first-time purchasers who forego traditional entry points like on-demand charters and jet cards in favor of diving right in.
Part of the difficulty, according to Town Hall officials, is that new buyers don’t know where to start – or believe they can do it on their own.
“First-time buyers are unfamiliar with the concept of brokers and how they might assist them…
They seek out to everyone they can find, and they end up with so much information that they become confused…
We constantly advise them to pick a broker and remain with him or her. Some people follow the advice, while others don’t,” said Rohit Kapur, JetHQ’s Asia president.
“As far as new customers being misadvised, I would go as far as to say mislead based on certain folks I’ve spoken to…knowing what it’s going to cost to continue to operate the aircraft,” Janine Iannarelli of Par Avion added. That is the most difficult aspect of the educational process. People enter the market with a concept of what they want to pay for something, but they seldom think about how much it will cost them in the long run. When I begin the process of attempting to educate them, they are completely taken aback. They’ve told me in certain situations that they’ve spoken with a flight crew member or a management business who has definitely understated the costs.”
She tells prospective clients to take it slowly and warns buyers not to be pushed. It can take up to a year to find the suitable aircraft and then close the sale. She advises customers to check with their families and significant others before making a purchase.
Leading Edge Aviation Solutions’ Joseph Carfagna, Jr. adds to the list of reasons to be careful. He claims that a surge in used aircraft sales late last year indicates that the existing inventory has been depleted. He said much of it, particularly for large-cabin jets, lacks the right configuration, location, or pedigree.
Carfagna says first-time buyers are mainly UHNWs and owners of small businesses who “have to press the flesh to make things happen.”
While the number of enquiries has reduced, he predicts a new wave of newcomers this summer when businesses try to get back on the road and find airline timetables no longer match their demands.
Similarly, corporate buyers, who are the primary drivers of new private jet sales, appear to be taking their time. Last year, the number of new business jets delivered fell by 20%, to the lowest level since 2004.