GAMA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, released its third-quarter shipments and billings report last week. The report reveals that business jets have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels, either in the number of aircraft or in inflation-adjusted billings. Despite book-to-bill solid ratios during the pandemic, the business jet market continues to underperform. Fortunately, supply chain constraints in the industry appear to be waning, providing hope for recovery in the usually strongest quarter of the year.
Below is a summary of shipments and billings from 2019-2023 through the third quarters of each year for east comparison. Volumes in every aircraft category are above 2022 levels, with pistons and turboprops leading the way. Compared to pre-pandemic levels from 2019, the single-engine piston and turboprop markets are about 35% higher than 2019, while multi-engine aircraft and business jets lag at about 89% of pre-pandemic levels.
Looking at the industry for the third quarter only, there are some encouraging signs. Billings in the third quarter of 2023 were higher than pre-pandemic levels by 5.7% overall. However, when inflation-adjusted using the Producer Price Index for aircraft manufacturing, the result in real terms was 5.6% below 2019 levels. Business jet deliveries in the third quarter were 159 in 2023 against 183 in 2019, down 13.1%. From the following chart summarizing only third-quarter comparisons, it is clear that the shortfall in business jet deliveries is driving the market.
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