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The Demand For Non-Airworthy Aircraft Remains

February 2023


At the beginning of 2021, there was an abundance of aircraft, airworthy and non-airworthy, on the market. That wasn’t the case by the end of the year, and prices were skyrocketing.

I had a CL-605 for sale that would have struggled to get $12M at the start of 2021.

I presented an offer to the owner for $12M. The owner decided the offer wasn’t competitive enough and did not accept it. The aircraft returned to the market a year later and received an offer for over $15M.

During 2022, we saw a 25-50%, and often higher, price hike on aircraft. Buyers panicked as prices rose, and owners took advantage of the opportunity by increasing prices. It became a sellers’ market rather quickly.

There were several reasons for the price hike. The most prominent were the Presidential election in the United States and the Covid pandemic.

People anticipated that with the change in Presidency, the bonus depreciation would disappear. The Covid pandemic played an equally important role as people who had the means to fly private were taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Currently, prices remain higher than usual, but they aren’t spiraling up or down. The light to super mid-range aircraft are still carrying a healthy premium due to the demand of charter companies, but this isn’t the only sector that’s thriving.

Many charter companies are struggling to get new aircraft quickly enough from the manufacturer, so they are buying preowned aircraft, which drives the prices higher and creates more competition.

Non-Airworthy Aircraft

At the end of 2021, when aircraft sold at 25-50% more than expected, owners realized they could get a premium for their non-airworthy aircraft. They saw similar aircraft sell for more than they could have imagined a year or two earlier and tried their luck with inflated prices.

While some buyers purchased at these inflated prices, others did not. It left many owners of non-airworthy aircraft with their assets.

Qualified Buyers

Now we are in 2023, and the demand for non-airworthy aircraft remains.

I have multiple qualified buyers who are interested in non-airworthy aircraft—one being Stuart Stevenson, CEO of JETS Bournemouth Limited in the United Kingdom. He is seeking to buy a steady flow of project aircraft for his MRO operations that ideally has overdue maintenance or need extensive cosmetic improvements. JETS will return these aircraft to service, undertaking overdue maintenance and any requisite refurbishment of paint and interior. 

“As our business continues steady growth, including private owners to global jet charter organizations, we look to use this as a baseline for doing larger projects on bringing more currently non-airworthy, end-of-lease, or bank-owned non-operating aircraft back to the skies for potential owners and operators including ourselves,” said Stuart.

He explains that the price stability after the feeding frenzy of the last two years is still an ongoing challenge for them to capitalize on the aircraft’s real-life market value and get a reasonable return.

“The market is changing again, and we will adapt with our partners to ensure we continue to resurrect viable aircraft. Still, owners looking to maximize a previously dead asset to the top value need to be realistic about what is involved in doing this and ensure a reasonable margin for all involved in the process.”

I worked with JETS previously on a Hawker project in late 2021, where, on that occasion, I represented the seller. I was impressed with how swiftly JETS responded to secure the aircraft.

“Speed is critical in this sector of aviation,” says Stuart. “In the current market, that’s paramount. Especially in the sellers-market of the last couple of years post-Covid.”

The aircraft sought are Hawkers, Challengers, Phenoms, and Learjets. I have plenty of buyers for all makes and models, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a non-airworthy or airworthy aircraft for sale.