By Robert Hewson
Now a principal stakeholder in and board member of Jetcraft Corporation, Jahid Fazal-Karim knows a thing or two about selling airplanes. Nine years at Airbus were followed by his stint as Bombardier Business Aircraft’s SVP, worldwide sales. Over 17 years in the craft he reckons he’s sold more than 1,500 business aircraft.
Like many observers Fazal-Karim sees 2010 as transition year for the business aviation, with the potential for a meaningful upturn by the end of the year – but he remains profoundly worried by the potential of the failing southern European economies to seriously damage the mood of the market.
It is, says Fazal-Karim, all about mood and perception. “There are plenty of buyers who still have plenty of money, The issue is whether they feel good about spending $20 million or $50 million. It really does come down to how people feel when they get up in the morning – and Greece puts everybody in a bad mood.”
Fazal-Karim notes also that used aircraft pricing has improved since 2009, but only a little. “At Jetcraft we had an amazing second half of 09. For the first six months people had aircraft to sell but couldn’t get a price they wanted – then they had to give in. Now, in early 2010, it’s the other way around. Buyers are looking for 2009 prices but there are far fewer distressed sellers. I’m not saying things are great, but the May 2009 prices are gone. Now, that means you can have a Gulfstream G550 for ‘only’ $46 million – but it’s not $39 million any more.”