AINsight: How Is It Translating?

 - September 4, 2020, 9:56 AM

It is hard to believe we have already turned the calendar to September. We have now been working in the shadow of Covid since March. In our industry during this period, so many questions have been asked and only few answered. Travel restrictions have plagued the world, greatly affecting the mobility of businesses and vacation travel.

Through it all, one question has been consistent: if we can travel again, when we can travel again, how will we travel? This conversation has had a huge impact on aircraft brokers' methodology in doing business.

Zoom became the interaction du jour. Many people tell me they spend hours each day on Zoom calls, and by day’s end they feel empty, not energized. We as human beings crave the actual interaction with people.

So many other people I speak with have said, “I will never get on a commercial airplane again until there is a vaccine that we know everyone has taken and that will protect us.” The comments are real and heartfelt. The fear of contracting the virus has made us all rethink what used to be normal methods of travel and life itself.

The question so many of us in our industry have asked is how many of those people calling and talking about never traveling commercial again will actually translate into people acting on those feelings and fears, rather than just speaking in hyperbole, and buying a private airplane? It is time to report on these feelings and fears.

In the last two weeks at my aircraft brokerage, we are seeing more buyers. And to better define these buyers, they are first-time buyers coming to us and signing up to go out and buy. So the talk and conversations are turning into real action. This surge in activity is across the board with respect to model. Light jets all the way to long-range airplanes are being scooped up in this wave.

Many of my sellers have read articles in the last few months that have predicted this surge of activity. Each one forwarding me the article with a “hold on, look what’s coming” note attached. I do want to caution those sellers of a reality that is accompanying this buying activity. Buyers are not blind to the market conditions. They are not waving away good buying sense. There is enough inventory to not cause premiums to be discussed or paid.

The buyers are aware of the equipment they are purchasing and understand the nature of the depreciation that is normally found in equipment, as well as the overall effect of the pandemic on pricing. No idea how prices will continue, but I am sure they will not go up. As the feelings and fears translate into activity and transactions, do not miss an opportunity to sell if confronted with a real offer from a real qualified buyer. This translation might not be a long-term phenomenon—grab it while you can!