The trend seen in 2013 of more larger aircraft being sold appears to be continuing. Led by both a slowly growing global economy, as well as an increase in billionaires worldwide, the average asking prices for heavy jets have steadily increased since 2012, reaching a $15.4 million peak in April (according to AMSTAT).
In 2014, the number of billionaires worldwide increased to 2,325 from 2,170 in 2013, according to a report by Wealth-X and UBS. Fifty-seven of the additional 155 are from the United States, with China registering a 25% increase. In addition to the growth in the number of billionaires, the combined wealth of these billionaires increased by 12%. The report notes that "Cities, not countries, matter to billionaires", in other words billionaires move from city to city, not from country to country: they are transnational. Furthermore certain "hotspots" - those locations with a high density of foreign billionaires – are increasing in popularity. For example, for every billionaire based in London, there is another who has a second residence there. These billionaires have more of a need of large-cabin aircraft and/or aircraft with long range capability, which has likely led to the continued growth in sales.
AMSTAT, the Aircraft fleet and operator information provider, has said that 7.8% of the business jet fleet transacted during the first nine months of the year, making it the busiest first nine months in the last ten years. Heavy jets were a strong sector, with a total of 2.3% of the fleet turning over.
According to Fabrizio Poli, Managing Partner at Tyrus Wings, "At Tyrus Wings we have recently seen 3 x Gulfstream G650s sold and 2 x Airbus ACJ319s in the last two weeks and another 6-10 Gulfstream G650s will probably be sold before the end of 2014, together with another Airbus ACJ. Boeing also recently sold 3 Boeing B777s that are going to be converted to VVIP and at Tyrus Wings we sold a pre-owned Boeing B777, that is currently being converted to a VVIP.
As a further sign of the resilience in the large jet market, Aerion, developer of a new supersonic business jet, recently announced a partnership with Airbus. Allan McArtor, Airbus Group chairman, said the partnership will take the three-engine Mach 1.6 jet "To the finish line." The Aerion AS2 (pictured above) comes with a price tag of $100+ million and is projected to enter service in 2022.
Fabrizio Poli notes "Over the next 5-10 years there will be more large cabin private jets flying around the world and the next evolution will be the supersonic private jet in 2022. Most of the large cabin clients are coming from China, as they reach out to invest in projects around the world."