A recovery for business aviation has started, but should not be regarded as stable until 2012 and will not take place uniformly throughout the sector.

That is the verdict of a group of industry leaders who gathered at EBACE to answer the question: "Exiting the economic crisis: where are we now and where are we going?" Teal Group chief analyst Richard Aboulafia says there will be "a permanent structured shift in favour of larger aircraft".

Not only has the top end of the market suffered less of a dip than the lower end, says Aboulafia, but the recovery will also come sooner and stronger at the top. Part of this disparity results from the greater use of third party financial support by the owners of smaller aircraft, Aboulafia says, and with such finance more difficult to obtain it will hinder sector recovery.

He believes the economic dip has bottomed out, and the climb back has begun, but it likely to level out for some time before the recovery stabilises. TAG Aviation chairman Roger McMullen says many in the industry were aware in 2008 that "we were experiencing a bubble". He says that is why the pinnacle in 2007-08 is not a good benchmark from which further expansion should be judged.

McMullen thinks 2006 is a more reliable indicator from where the industry should start. He agrees with Aboulafia about growth returning earlier and stronger to the large-aircraft sector, but delivers a depressing verdict on the prospects for the fractional ownership sector, predicting "the popularity of fractional ownership is definitely compromised, and my guess is that we may never see again the large acquisitions in that sector."

Overall, McMullen sees "modest but volatile growth in 2010, then gradual growth that trails economic growth by about 18 months".

  • All the latest news, images and video from EBACE 2010

Source: Flight Daily News