Could Falling Private Jet Demand Be Another Sign Rich Pull Back On Spending Ahead Of Economic Turbulence?

The decline in private jet usage in the US may indicate that affluent individuals are scaling back their expenses due to the increased risk of an upcoming recession within the next year.

Bloomberg data reveals that private jet flights in the US reached their highest point in early 2022 but have been steadily decreasing ever since. Takeoffs and landings experienced a 4.5% decline in the first quarter compared to the previous year’s same quarter. This downward trend accelerated further in April, with a 9.3% drop compared to an 8.6% decline in March, potentially indicating a weakening demand.

As the private jet industry faces challenges and the capital markets experience volatility, Flexjet, the second-largest private jet operator in the US after NetJets Inc., had to postpone its SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) last month. While private jet demand remains higher than pre-pandemic levels, as many affluent individuals have yet to return to commercial airlines in the post-pandemic era, there has been a noticeable reduction in spending by the wealthy in the first half of 2023 due to growing concerns of a recession.

Interestingly, some insiders within the industry actually welcome the end of the private jet boom that emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenn Ricci, chairman of Flexjet, told Bloomberg: 

“Thank God it’s not what it was last year.” He said his company saw annual flight hours jump to 145,000 from 90,000 before the pandemic. 

The decline in private jet demand coincides with recent debit and credit card data published by the Bank of America Institute, indicating that affluent individuals are indeed scaling back their spending. This data highlights a trend of reduced expenditure among the wealthy.

In addition to the decline in demand, a recent report by JPMorgan Chase revealed that the average asking price for private jets experienced a 1.2% decrease from February to March, settling at $12.8 million. This easing of prices follows a period of significant growth over the past few years. However, it’s worth noting that the average asking price still remains 7% higher than prices from the previous year due to limited inventory.

These observations align with the data from Bloomberg, which indicates that recession probabilities for the next 12 months have reached 100%. The combination of affluent individuals reducing private jet flights and scaling back on overall spending can be attributed to these heightened concerns about an impending recession.


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