Sales of new private aircraft fell 16 percent in the first quarter from a year ago as demand weakened for the largest planes.
Jet airplane billings were about $3.53 billion in the first quarter, down from $4.2 billion a year earlier, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. That was the biggest decline in almost five years.
Demand for large-cabin business jets has deteriorated amid a dearth of spending from the oil industry, a strengthening dollar and low commodity prices that are sapping purchases in some emerging-market countries.
Manufacturers including General Dynamics Corp.’s Gulfstream unit and Bombardier Inc. shipped 34 large jets in the quarter, down from 46 a year ago. Those jets fetch higher prices, which skew the sales amount. A Gulfstream G650, the largest purpose-built business jet that can fly from New York to Tokyo, has a list price of more than $65 million.
Shipments of medium-sized jets increased to 76 from 69, a sign that smaller US companies are still returning to the market as customers. Excluding Dassault Aviation SA, which doesn’t report first-quarter shipments, 122 total business jets were delivered in the first three months of the year, down from 128.
A business jet is a jet aircraft
designed for transporting small groups of people. Business jets may be adapted for other roles, such as the evacuation of casualties or express parcel deliveries, and some are used by public bodies, government officials or the armed forces.
On January 1, 2016, there were 21,342 business jets in the worldwide fleet, of which 11.1 percent were for sale. About 70 percent of the fleet was in North America at the end of 2011. The European market is the next largest, with growing activity in the Middle East, Asia, and Central America.
In 2014 the total airplane billing amounted to just over $22 billion, and 722 business jets were delivered to customers across the globe; 204 by Bombardier Aerospace, 159 by Cessna, 150 by Gulfstream Aerospace, 116 by Embraer and 66 by Dassault Falcon. Honeywell predicts 9,200 aircraft to be delivered during 2016-25 for a total value of $270 billion.