GAMA released its Year End 2021 results for shipments and billings earlier today. Business Aviation continued to slowly improve during the fourth quarter of 2021, with deliveries and billings recovering but not quite reaching pre-pandemic levels from 2019. Despite a much higher number of aircraft movements in 2021, business aircraft sales lag behind, but are expected to increase in 2022 given the current tight market for used business jets. The following table compares full year shipments and billings from pre-pandemic 2019 with 2020 and 2021, illustrating the comeback to 98.9% in fixed wing aircraft deliveries and 91.8% in billings.
The helicopter market at Year End 2021 also recovered to 94.2% of pre-pandemic units and 96.2% of pre-pandemic billings, also showing signs of a recovery.
Fourth quarter results were only slightly better in 2021 than in 2020 in terms of business jet deliveries, 272 to 266, but still well behind pre-pandemic 2019 which had 293 fourth quarter shipments. Fourth quarter billings were flat with 2020, and lower than 2019, reaching 94% of pre-pandemic levels.
The following graph shows business jet traffic levels in the US from our AirInsight Decision Analytics data model, which are accessible free to subscribers. That model indicates that business jet activity is well above pre-pandemic levels. Unfortunately, while aircraft utilization has increased, that hasn’t yet translated to aircraft deliveries given lead times for business jet manufacturing and completions.
The fourth quarter is typically the strongest for business aviation, and after hopeful results through three quarters, with strong used aircraft demand, signs were such that a full recovery to 2019 levels might be neared in the fourth quarter. Those signs were correct, and Year End 2021 results were improved over 2020. Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues and the inability to more quickly ramp-up production, sales levels remained above 2020 levels but have not quite recovered to 2019 levels. A summary comparison of fourth quarter performance follows:
Looking at the fourth quarter itself, the industry reached 92.8% of business jet volume and 94% of total billings when compare with pre-pandemic 2019. Expectations remain higher for 2022. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that the industry will recover to 2007-2008 levels experienced before the great recession during the next few years.
The recovery in business aviation has not been equally distributed across all OEMs, as shown in the table below showing business jet deliveries by manufacturer. In 2021, the industry delivered 710 business jets, compared with 809 and 644 for 2019 and 2020, respectively. The trend is clearly an uptick and moving in the right direction, but there is still a ways to go. In 2021, Textron delivered the most business jets with 206, followed by Gulfstream with 147 and Bombardier with 142. The following table shows full year business jet deliveries by manufacturer for 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Market share based on the number of business jets delivered is shown on the following table. Textron has maintained its lead at 23.5% , followed by Bombardier at 16.9% and Gulfstream at 16.8%.
The following chart present the aircraft market share data graphically, illustrating the fairly consistent performance among the major players.
From a billings standpoint, the mix of smaller and larger business jets favors Gulfstream and Bombardier at the top end of the market, and to a lesser extent Dassault, which is awaiting its two new highly anticipated Falcon Jet models. Textron’s mix of smaller business jets places it third in billings. The following table shows billings by manufacturer, which includes all aircraft produced, not only business jets, for Cirrus, Pilatus and Textron.
Market share based on billings shows steady performance for most players, with Bombardier already in production with its Global 7500, Gulfstream awaiting the new G700, and Dassault awaiting the new Falcon 10X as the top of the market features new aircraft that will impact the market in 2023 and beyond.
Graphically, the market shares in billings illustrate an upward tick from Bombardier as its flagship Global 7500 production has ramped up, growing its average revenue per aircraft. Gulfstream also remains quite strong in billings, but its lead over Bombardier has diminished somewhat in 2021 as it transitions between the G650ER and forthcoming G700.
The Bottom Line
The GAMA Year End 2021 shipments data indicate that the industry is approaching a recovery to pre-pandemic levels, and with optimistic signs that could happen in 2022. Nonetheless, we do not expect the current boom in business jet utilization to suddenly return us to the record years of 2007 and 2008 for business jet production. The trends are now positive, and the data show that a good portion of the recovery to pre-pandemic levels is in place. Unless another spike impacts the recovery from the pandemic, we expect 2022 to be a positive year for business aviation utilization, and to have a portion of that demand translate into new aircraft.