Among the indices followed by Honeywell, jets for sale and flight activity merit special attention.
The number of fielded jets for sale today is diminishing slowly. Approximately 12 percent of today's fleet is in play, down from a high of more than 15 percent reached in 2009. Current levels are almost normal in light of the past decade's history, and recent trends indicate the number should continue to shrink slowly.
Younger inventory (jets 10 years old or less) usually make up less than 20 percent of what is for sale, but this year their ranks have hovered around a quarter of all listings. This is down from record averages of about 30 percent reached in 2009. More crucially, improvements recently stopped, adding another cautionary note to overall market trends.
Prospects for improved levels of flying activity in the near future are modest. Honeywell expects American business jet cycles to close this year with a small contraction of about 1 percent, mostly attributed to sluggish corporate operations, offset in part by relatively strong charter operations. Next year should bring growth in the low single digits, presaging a slow, multiyear path back to historical normalcy.European activity in 2012 — which does not include Russia in this case — is expected to decline approximately 3 percent. Another contraction of equal magnitude is expected in 2013, driven not only by weak economic prospects in Western Europe but by recent fleet declines. Renewed recovery in flight volumes is not anticipated until 2014. On a brighter note, recent Russian Business Aircraft Association figures indicate that flight activity levels in this fleet are expanding at mid-single-digit levels. Operator reported planned changes in business jet utilization in regions outside Europe and North America mirror the lugubrious pace of improvement expected in the mature regions with neutral to very modest plans for increased levels of activity. FRACTIONAL MARKET Flight activity for charter-like operations and fractional ownership appears to be doing relatively well in the U.S., but not translating into many new aircraft deliveries. Fractional operators have taken only five new jets this year, while shedding 11 other aircraft. NetJet's large order of 425 aircraft from Bombardier and Cessna have boosted backlog figures, and should yield stronger delivery performance later if economic growth resumes a more quotidian pace in developed economies.