Honeywell rolled out its annual forecast for business aviation yesterday, and it is hard to get one’s head around. Is the future good for sales? Is it bad? The answer to both is yes…and no.
Why the strange report? Well, the pandemic has caused that much disruption in the industry. The report is typically presented on the eve of the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention, which had been scheduled to be going on this week in Orlando, Florida, but was cancelled due to Covid-19. So this year the forecast was distributed to members of the press last week in advance of what is typically the opening day of the event.
So all of that was weird. Perhaps even weirder were the data. The forecast is the result of thousands of data points, many of them collected person to person (well, phone to phone), and the people driving that data are the ones who actually operate business aircraft. So that data, one what they plan to buy (or not) and when, has to be pretty rock solid. Except, this year nothing seems to be.
The forecast reported that operators surveyed planned on conducting business as usual, which Honeywell’s forecast’s authors describe as “five-year purchase plans” being largely unchanged from pre-pandemic times. And Honeywell specifically asked if Covid-19 had affected their purchase plans, and about 80 percent said that they had not. Moreover, 90 percent do not plan to downsize their fleets, which often consist of just one turbine-powered plane.
In terms of big numbers, Honeywell’s forecasters found that the market for new bizjets through 2030, so ten years out, will be $235 billion on the strength of 7,300 deliveries, which is an average of 32 million per business aircraft. This fact shows how much of an impact the sales of very high end, large cabin bizjets have had in the marketplace, which once was dominated by smaller and midsized jets.
And you might be aware that one of the theories floated for how the pandemic would affect business aviation was that sales of jets and usage of jets would rise sharply, since flying in your own jet saves you the airline experience. Honeywell said that this theory was wrong.
At the same time, the forecasters saw the decline in sales rebounding by the second half of next year, which makes sense to us, with fingers crossed that the pandemic is under control by then.