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Vol. 23, No. 1  |  March 1, 2010
Pre-Owned Aircraft Market Distracted by Bottom Feeders
Carl Janssens, ASA | Aircraft Bluebook–Price Digest
[View the charts.]

In the pre-owned aircraft market, bottom feeders are like red herrings.

Bottom feeders — corporate aircraft that have no significant issues with their history, maintenance or condition and are marketed below Bluebook wholesale values — continue to be great opportunities for the fortunate few who buy without a blink of an eye.

They also lead buyers into a false perception of value that only competition in the market can correct.

Reasons why such aggressive marketing maneuvers continue to appear are wide and varied. When a corporate aircraft with no issues with its condition, equipment or history sells for a low price, Aircraft Bluebook–Price Digest investigates to learn the whole story. Capital gains, tax shelters, foreclosures, and even new deliveries are just a few reasons behind these significantly discounted offerings. One common denominator in all of this is the element of time. An aggressive discount in price represents interest in an immediate sale. True, this moves the economy, but such a transaction does not fit the definition of Fair Market, which the Bluebook reports as Average Retail.

Pre-owned aircraft sales activity slowly is showing stability in the market, but news of another bottom feeder eclipses these transactions, and market perception has to be rebooted like after a computer crash.

Serious buyers are starting to see beyond all the drama when an unrealistic offering is being denied by the seller. Ready-to-fly, well-equipped aircraft with fresh maintenance are bringing some normalcy to aircraft values.

Although the market is still nothing to brag about, and trends still might adjust down, this market is nothing like the roller coaster ride of 2009. As the market slowly improves, attention to navigating through the economy is migrating from ground to traffic awareness.
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