Pandemic Jet Buyers Regretting Purchases


The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a surge in used business jet sales in 2020 and there’s been a boomerang effect in 2021 as first-time owners take stock of those purchases. A virtual town hall of aircraft brokerages hosted by Corporate Jet Investor revealed that a significant number of those who thought a private aircraft was an easy solution to the travel challenges created by the pandemic are now experiencing buyer’s remorse. “As far as new buyers being misadvised, I would go as far as to say misled based on some people I’ve spoken to … knowing what it’s going to cost to continue to operate the aircraft. That is the biggest challenge in the educational process,” said Janine Iannerelli, of Par Avion.

The brokers said many of those who jumped into the market weren’t prepared for the complexity of the typical transaction. Others were surprised that private jets are the gifts that keep on taking, even when they’re not flown much. “When I start down that path of trying to educate them, they are absolutely shocked,” Iannerelli said. The brokers also cautioned those thinking of buying a used jet that many of the best buys are already gone. Much of what’s left is outdated and in need of major upgrades to be truly useful. Demand has moderated over the winter but the town hall was told that another spike in sales is expected this summer as the lingering effects of the pandemic continue to restrict travel options.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. “Others were surprised that private jets are the gifts that keep on taking, even when they’re not flown much.”
    I love this sentence! What airplane is not the gift that keeps on taking. Sort of like a hay burner. They got to be housed and fed even if you aren’t riding them. Made me chuckle.

  2. Ironic. This subject dovetails with the one about the “GAO Reviews Ridesharing.” A pandemic brings a glut of used bizjets to the market, people with a need to travel safely see an opportunity to solve their needs at “reasonable” cost not realizing what they were getting themselves into. And then they find out that trying to spread the cost of O&M over multiple users is overregulated for no good reason. Suddenly, what seemed like a “good deal” isn’t and there’s no easy way to recover. Next up … we need an article about how the cost of aviation fuel is being driven off the charts by people who think that life on earth will end in nine years if we don’t propel everything with electrons.

    Like I frequently say, “The FAA has been making simple stuff hard since 1958.” They have no profit motive. They have no reason to worry about “biting the hand that feeds them.” One segment of aviation at a time, they’re killing the geese that lay golden eggs. And THEN … in places where close attention to every detail really IS important — can you spell MCAS — I don’t think they even know what they’re doing. They’re sleeping with the enemy. They don’t have strategic plans or long range plans … only knee jerk reactions that often make no logical sense whatever. Unfortunately, they have the magic “twanger” … and we don’t. It might be a good time to invest in old airplane salvage yards?

  3. Not sure why this is all about jets. I see the same thing at the light piston single end of the market. Flight training teaches you how to be a pilot. It doesn’t teach you how to be an aircraft owner. Totally different skill set.

  4. I point out the newest FAA ‘let’s make things complicated, oh, and expensive'(to the tune of $multibillions)
    It is spelled ADS-B. Cost/benefit, to me, works out as a mess of tech necks sayin: ‘hey y’all, watch this!

    • Well Frank, you may want to read up on that technology. It is the basis for far more efficient and safer traffic management. Its advantages run from reduced separation over the North Atlantic to providing someone like yourself with a fairly inexpensive means to see and avoid traffic, even in the pattern.

      • For me, with a $25000 airplane that I had to put a $5500 2 years ago, I have yet to see any REAL cost-benefit. Most of my flights are within 200 miles except for my yearly attempts to make it to KOSH. More of a distraction for me unless I want to spend another $800-$1000 on a Bluetooth headset to hear traffic alerts

  5. Phooey. ADS-B is one of the best safety upgrades ever devised. Second only to GPS. It has brought in-flight weather and traffic information into the cockpits of the vast majority of the aircraft in the US, thus reducing risks. The increases in safety from this system have begun to be seen in accident statistics, but will continue to improve for years and years as more aircraft participate and ATC integration improves.

  6. Yet the ADS-B in the U.S. was FAR over budget, and FAR over schedule.
    HOW BAD does a product have to be when the government has to offer not only a MANDATE, but OFFER A BRIBE TO BUY IT?

    Even today, there are a lot of aircraft owners that have simply said “No, thank you” to ADS B.

    Adding insult to injury, the Russians rejected line-of-sight towers in favor of satellite systems–not only fixing one of the ADS-B shortcomings, but making it attractive all over the world–unlike our own ADS B. Canada, Mexico, and other sparsely populated areas of the world embraced the competing system–and our own ADS B will not work in much of the rest of the world. Unlike the Russian system, the U.S. system can be easily jammed. U.S. aircraft owners are paying AGAIN for the FAA mistake–especially if they want to operate in other countries.

  7. Somehow this string of comments devolved from the real cost of used jets to the costs of operating any aircraft to complaining about the FAA (for a change).
    Yeah. It’s an imperfect world. On the other hand look at the regulatory maze you must negotiate to get a PPL in New Zealand, or look at the costs and regulations that exist in the EU and UK, or countries with privatized ATC. While aviation is expensive (and it has always been for multiple reasons), that’s not the FAA’s fault. ADS-B is not perfect, but it does provide a lot of risk reducing information. As for guys who thought that buying a used jet would be “cheap” (really???) one could classify that thought as another category of poor ADM!