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OPINION: Business aviation must accept new normal

Finally, it seems, some good news in business jets; a decade on from the financial crisis, sales look to be firming up. It is of course no surprise that the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression should have wiped out a nascent air taxi industry. Nor is it any real surprise that the sales slump did not spare larger aircraft models – volume is small and it did not take many distressed sales to flood the market with too-good-to-miss second-hand deals.

But now, conditions look very good. A generation of global capitalism has generated a huge pool of stunningly wealthy individuals. Years of central bank quantitative easing – that is, money-printing – have given them mountains of cash. And, today’s economy offers few profitable investments, so vast sums are pouring into super-high-risk ventures like spaceflight, artifical intelligence and genetic engineering. What money is left over – a lot – might as well be spent on private jets.

But for those slightly down the chain – who aspire to private air travel – wealth is relative and feels fragile. It is widely expected that the next financial crisis is coming, and that it might be a really big one. The Middle East looks increasingly like war ready to happen. An Asian arms race rings alarm bells.

The take-away? Enjoy an upturn, but do not compare sales and backlog figures to the high times pre-2008 – that was not a boom but a bubble. Normal is now.

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