VLJ Market Seen As Dicey
"We remain air-taxi agnostics," said Aboulafia, "although we do forecast a market for 2,310 very light jets [over the next 10 years], including 620 Cessna Citation Mustangs." The arguments against mass adaptation of VLJs are "daunting," says the report. They're too small for business flyers and too expensive for piston pilots who want to upgrade. The success of the air-taxi concept is "unlikely," the report says, because it depends on the emergence of a market that is too thin, and faces the logistical hurdles of scheduling point-to-point service without excessive deadhead legs that would eat up any profits. The VLJ market isn't likely to exceed 250 airplanes per year, says Teal. Eclipse alone needs to produce 500 per year just to break even, the report says. Adam Aircraft has projected a 50-per-year production rate, which Teal says is "reasonable." Others, of course, including Eclipse, think the market does exist, and the air-taxi model will be profitable. The next few years should show who was right.