Used Single Engine Aircraft, Avgas Fuel Sales Down
As fuel prices continue to climb nationwide, the pinch on the
general aviation consumer becomes tighter as recreational flying
becomes too expensive for many.
In an article this week by the Wichita Eagle, business owners
and operators in the GA community spoke out about how the rising
costs have affected their businesses and their flying habits.
"The recreational side of flying is really taking a hit," said
Paul Wyatt, editor of Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest.
Pilots who use their aircraft for fun and for discretionary
reasons have felt the most pain. Those pilots have slowed or
stopped buying planes.
"There's definitely a lull in the smaller market of piston
aircraft," he said.
A recent Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association survey of owners
and renters showed fuel prices have had a dramatic effect on
flying. Seventy-two percent of the respondents have curtailed
flying; forty percent cut back 50 percent or more.
AOPA spokeswoman Kathleen Vasconcelos said aviation fuel costs
about $5.50 to $6.50 a gallon in nationwide averages.
However, as a pilots usage of the aircraft for business
increases, the likelihood of their reduction in flying decreases as
business travel remains strong regardless of the price of fuel.
"The more serious the usage of their aircraft is, the less
likely it is to impact their decision to use it," said Cosby Stone
of the Trade-a-Plane trade newspaper.
Wichita Cessna Aircraft dealer Steve Dunne agrees. “No one
buying a new $400,000 single-engine piston aircraft is complaining
that fuel costs $5 a gallon” he said.
"They're going, 'Am I going to sell as many widgets to Wal-Mart
next year,' " he said.
His sales are steady, he said. But he stays out of the older
single-engine market, where "airplanes are starting to stack up on
the used market."
Jim Alexander, a pilot and founder of Jim Alexander Aircraft
Sales no longer keeps used aircraft in stock. It's too expensive.
"You've got to carry them too long," he said.
The value of used two-place and four-place single engine
aircraft, used primarily for recreational flying, has deteriorated
more in the past few years than that of high-performance aircraft,
Wyatt is seeing the value of aircraft models still in production
remaining stable or in some cases appreciating. He said buyers have
faith in the support and parts availability of those models still
rolling off production lines.
Planemakers say sales of larger business turboprops and jets
have not been affected as drastically as the smaller aircraft
market, possibly owing to a greater international market for those
Any slowing of the U.S. market is being offset by international
sales, said Hawker Beechcraft spokesman Andrew Broom. More than 60
percent of the company's orders are from outside the U.S., he
Leo Knaapen, a Bombardier Aerospace spokesman, said forecasts
predict orders continuing to be brisk, although at a slightly lower
pace than last year.
The rising oil costs are even hitting fixed-base operators who
sell Avgas and jet fuel.
In Wichita, Yingling Aviation's jet fuel business is steady or
growing slightly, said Lonnie Vaughan, Yingling's chief financial
officer. But avgas sales, which are about 10 percent of total fuel
sales, were down about 30 percent in June, a rainy month, which
contributed to the drop, he said.
National Air Transportation Association spokesman David Almy
said national sales averages of avgas are down anywhere from 10 to
50 percent, pointing to a softening general aviation market.
Pilot Jim Alexander summed it up, "just to turn $5+ fuel into
noise, a lot of people are not doing that anymore."