Consultancy Ascend, owned by Flight Daily News publisher Flightglobal, is seeing increased valuations and appraisal business from owners and operators of VIP airliners. And with the Middle East home to the largest concentration of bizliners on the planet, it is a market with plenty of potential.

As Daniel Hall, senior analyst at the company points out, Ascend is “one of the very few” appraisers that is prepared to evaluate VIP airliners.

The consultancy firm’s strong connections with the commercial aviation sector mean that it already has a strong degree of familiarity with the product, says Hall.

“It’s nice when a lot of people are referring customers to you,” he adds.

Prices for new aircraft tend to be “very strong and inflated” he says, thanks to the relatively low supply of new jets and the typical lengthy completions process.

Most are traded at around the 12-year mark, says Hall, coinciding with a heavy airframe check and a typical requirement to refresh interior. A typical BBJ1 in that age range is worth around $30 million, according to Ascend’s figures.

“The key is that the interior has international appeal. Everyone has their own personal preference but some of the early BBJ’s have horrible interiors and, as a result, simply don’t sell,” he adds.

Data from the Ascend Fleets database only serves to illustrate how big the market for bizliners is in the region.

In all, some 32% - or 111 aircraft - of the global bizliner fleet is Middle East-based. It also shows that 50% of that fleet is installed in just six countries, three of which are in the Middle East.

And in the last five years alone, the Middle East has taken delivery of more airliner-derived VIP aircraft, or 30% of the total, than any other region.

Marlon Mejia, aviation analyst at Ascend, says their appeal is partly as status symbols and partly due to the requirement to transport large delegations.

“While the bizliners don’t have the same range capability as the top-end business jets, this is of less importance for the typical missions being operated on from the Middle East,” he adds.

Bizliners also benefit from preferential treatment from air traffic control and airports, he adds, and with airframers already having large-scale support networks for the global airliner fleet in place, downtime due to technical problems can also be kept to a minimum.

Source: Flight Daily News