Manufacturers and suppliers call 2004 a 'turning point'

Industry leaders queued in Las Vegas to declare the downturn officially over, with aircraft manufacturers, equipment suppliers and trade associations at their most buoyant since the boom of the late 1990s.

Clay Jones, chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, said 2004 had been a "turning point" and that, despite the rising oil price and the still-fragile US economy, the recovery in the industry was "very robust".

Gulfstream president Bryan Moss - who just over a year ago claimed the industry was in a worse state than at any time he could recall - said there was an "improved level of confidence" with deliveries of new aircraft ahead of expectations and a decline in used aircraft stocks firming residual values.

Charles Edelstenne, chief executive of Dassault Aviation, said the previous 12 months had "witnessed a complete turnaround". The completions market was "fully recovered" and new aircraft sales were "ahead of forecast", he said.

The comments back up the upbeat findings of the influential annual Honeywell business aviation outlook, published during the show (Flight International, 12-18 October).

They came as the business aviation community received another shot in the arm, with Congress approving a move to extend bonus depreciation for business aircraft for 12 months from its 31 December deadline. It now awaits approval from the US president.

But Ed Bolen, new president of the National Business Aviation Association, warned that the strengthening sector faces major challenges from "forces out there impeding our access to airports" on the grounds of security or capacity concerns. Scheduled airlines want to drive up the cost of business aviation and are demanding the business aviation sector pays for itself through higher user fees, he says.


Source: Flight International