Good news for Aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft this week, who have just released sales figures suggesting that UK demand for their private aircraft is on the rise. The UK received 232 deliveries of Beechcraft aircraft during the period 2007-2011, which was more than any other European country. This also reflects +47% increase on the previous five years 2002-2006, when the industry was in a perceived ‘boom’ pre-recession.
This paints a strong picture for Beechcraft, and shows that the UK demand for their aircraft was strong despite the recession. Beechcraft have suggested this is due to London’s position as a financial hub, and the UK culture for ‘savvy entrepreneurial people’.
This is no surprise to me, and describes our growing number of tech-savvy PrivateFly customers perfectly, not just in the UK but worldwide.
But perhaps these delivery figures also show another level of savviness and relative austerity, with the UK customer choosing turboprops instead of jets.
Beechcraft’s Kingair is the world’s most versatile and popular turbo prop. Offering cost-efficiency, and modern comforts to rival most small jets, the Kingair is a popular short-haul choice for PrivateFly customers, worldwide.
Overall, the European market is still in a challenging position, down -3.3% year on year in flight movements. But it’s also changing and polarising. Latest data from WINGX indicates that the growth is coming from each extreme of the market. If you look at all business aviation activity during March and April 2013, light aircraft (VLJs and turboprops) flew more than 60% of all activity in Europe, and aircraft such as the Cessna Citation Mustang continue to hold their ground.
Then at the top of the market, we see the ‘Ultra’ wealth driving increased usage of the Ultra Long Range category in Europe. Aircraft such as the Global Express are increasing sector volumes on both short-haul and long-haul flights. What’s struggling is the middle ground – the medium and mid-sized jets.
What’s certain is that the savvy image of the private jet customer is here to stay, and the market is adjusting fast to a new breed of customer as it moves towards recovery.