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Africa is a vast continent of 54 countries, each with their own civil aviation authorities and regulatory environments. Picture: SUPPLIED/JETCRAFT
Africa is a vast continent of 54 countries, each with their own civil aviation authorities and regulatory environments. Picture: SUPPLIED/JETCRAFT

Interest in business jets has soared across Africa in the past 18 months. Whether responding to limited and declining airline options or pursuing the health and safety benefits of private jet travel compared to commercial flights, the business case for private aviation has gained in strength. At Jetcraft, we’re now receiving three times as many inquiries from potential new aircraft owners in Africa than before the pandemic.

Many companies are expanding with new business units across more countries in Africa. As a result, air travel and aircraft to suit their needs remain essential. Demand for business jet ownership is rising across the continent, as seen in countries such as Angola, Uganda and Ghana. In Kenya, which already has a strong installed base of short-range private aircraft used for tourism, we’re seeing growing interest in larger jets for longer missions. Established markets such as Nigeria and SA remain vibrant. 

An aircraft for every mission

All big manufacturers — from Bombardier and Embraer, to Dassault and Gulfstream — are active in Africa, and all sizes of business jets have applications. The vast distances involved in travelling around Africa mean medium-to-long-range jets such as Embraer’s Legacy series, and Dassault’s Falcon 900 models attract high levels of interest. Africa’s business links with Europe and the Middle East are also growing, thus requiring aircraft that can serve this operational need. Meanwhile, in Southern and West Africa there is demand for light jets such as Bombardier’s Learjet 45 and 75, suited to shorter-range, regional operations. 

A consideration in Africa when choosing the size and model of your business jet is the quality and capability of the maintenance facilities and support infrastructure available in the particular region. At Jetcraft we can, with confidence, refer buyers and owners of such aircraft to suitable maintenance facilities and operators. 

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Industry education

One consequence of rising demand for business aircraft in Africa is the need for our industry to educate first-time buyers not only on the aircraft options, but also how the market works, aircraft values, the different capabilities of jets in each segment, and the responsibilities and implications of ownership. Banks and financing organisations, especially those new to the aviation market, might need education too. With this in mind, it’s especially important for first-time aircraft buyers to work with an experienced aviation adviser to guide them. 

Regional opportunities

Fractional (partial) ownership programmes aren’t viable in Africa right now, with users too widely spread, so outright ownership supports clients that need to have consistent access to their business interests. We expect to also see owners take an interest in the commercial opportunities of offering their jets for charter in the coming months.

A second consequence of the demand for business jet ownership is that existing owners can take advantage of low global inventory levels to sell their aircraft, either in Africa or into the international market. Owners might be looking to upgrade to a larger jet, or operators with multiple aircraft could be rationalising their fleets. Whatever the reason, tightening supply in the industry, coupled with the heightened value proposition of business aviation during Covid-19, is creating an opportunity for buyers to sell or trade in their assets. 

Values remain consistent

Aircraft values in Africa don’t exist in isolation and typically reflect trends in the global market. While business jet values may be firming up, they are not spiking so there is no need to overbudget when planning how you will finance your aircraft. 

About the author: Danie Joubert is vice-president sales at Jetcraft Africa. Picture: SUPPLIED/JETCRAFT AFRICA
About the author: Danie Joubert is vice-president sales at Jetcraft Africa. Picture: SUPPLIED/JETCRAFT AFRICA

Though values of aircraft coming out of certain countries in Africa have sometimes been affected by concerns in civil aviation standards, those territories are exceptions and known to the market. In fact, several maintenance facilities in Africa now offer work that meets US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, with several officially approved FAA and EASA maintenance organisations.

OEM appointed authorised service centres in Africa cover most major products. The important consideration is not where the aircraft was based, but rather how it was managed and maintained. Many high-quality aircraft can therefore be sourced from African owners. 

Expert support vital

Africa is a vast continent of 54 countries, each with their own civil aviation authorities and regulatory environments. Added to this are the multiple local currencies and foreign exchange arrangements that apply when trading in US dollars, the primary currency in which aircraft are traded. In this region, it’s critical for aircraft buyers to engage an experienced adviser with a global network who understands these complex dynamics and can offer the depth and breadth of support needed to succeed when buying or selling in Africa. 

Experience has shown that a seller in Africa placing an aircraft with a small US-based broker could easily find a year passing without a sale or serious inquiry, whereas at Jetcraft, our global network of experts know where the buyers are, and we have been in a position to table suitable offers within a reasonable period. Our international footprint means we often source aircraft before they’ve been listed, providing faster results. 

To find out more, contact your nearest Jetcraft sales representative to discuss your options.

Visit the Jetcraft website and follow on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

This article was paid for by Jetcraft.

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