aircraft finance

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    7 Avoidable Mistakes in Acquiring a Bizjet see more

    NAFA member, David G. Mayer, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP, discusses mistakes to avoid when acquiring a private jet aircraft.  

    Acquiring a private jet aircraft is fraught with the potential to make expensive mistakes. Yet, a qualified aviation team can help a purchaser achieve optimal results by avoiding these seven missteps:

    GOING IT ALONE

    Assembling the right aviation team admittedly entails some cost and initial effort. But most purchasers quickly realize that buying a jet is not like buying a car, real estate, or other assets. Rather, a jet purchase or lease is complex and requires the assistance of aviation experts who excel in the subject matter and interact seamlessly on a deliberate closing schedule. Tax-intensive, cross-border, and novel purchases may require additional expertise beyond the core team members described below.

    Aircraft broker. Purchasers buy aircraft solo, and that can work out. However, a purchaser might suffer buyer’s remorse or experience negative outcomes such as unnecessarily incurring taxes on the purchase. A skilled broker focuses on the purchaser’s needs and wants, knows the “market,” identifies the best available aircraft for the purchaser, and negotiates business and other terms with the team.

    Consultants and pilots. Various consultants perform visual and record inspections, appraise aircraft, supervise pre-buy inspections, organize flight departments (Part 91-private aircraft operations), provide insights into choosing Part 135 managers (commercial/charter use), and may provide broker services. Pilots may support, perform, or lead on some tasks but must collaborate with the other team members.

    Aviation lawyer. Aviation law is challenging, so non-aviation counsel should not act alone in aircraft purchases. Instead, they should hire an experienced aviation legal team that understands and regularly structures acquisitions amid conflicting tax, regulatory, liability, risk management, choice of owner entity, and other complex rules. They must also regularly draft and negotiate aviation-specific agreements and, importantly, have even broader financing expertise than just aircraft loans and leases.

    Aviation insurance broker. The aviation insurance market is no place for a generalist broker. Aviation insurance brokers know how to navigate aircraft insurance markets and negotiate complex policy terms. 

    Escrow agent and FAA counsel. With few exceptions, purchasers and sellers should use escrow agents, comprised of escrow companies and FAA lawyers. These agents hold and disburse funds, collect and file documents at the FAA, register interests and parties on the International Registry, and may issue title insurance. FAA counsel can also offer legal advice, write title opinions, and draft multiple documents.

    NOT SELECTING THE RIGHT AIRCRAFT 

    Despite the unquestionable benefits of owning or leasing a whole jet aircraft, notably during Covid-19, a prospective purchaser should first rule out other workable options to fly privately, such as chartering or buying a fractional share of a jet. After that, a purchaser should concentrate first on the aircraft/user’s “mission” before deciding on which new or used whole aircraft to buy or lease.

    Generally, the term “mission” is aviation speak for a purchaser’s effort to identify aircraft that will serve all or at least most of the private travel the purchaser envisions. When completed, the mission profile informs the search by purchasers and their brokers in today’s active market with numerous jet makes and models for sale.

    NOT PLANNING FOR TAXES BEFORE SIGNING AN LOI

    Private jets attract the interest of tax authorities at the federal, state, and local levels. Before signing a letter of intent () to acquire a jet, if possible, a purchaser should use accountants and lawyers to develop tax minimization strategies and structures under federal tax law, including the use of bonus depreciation and other business deductions, state sales/use tax laws, and local property laws. Solid planning may be slower than purchasers expect but failing to do so can wreak tax and financial havoc. 

    NOT CREATING A LEGAL OR STRONG AIRCRAFT OWNERSHIP/OPERATING STRUCTURE

    A purchaser should determine the person or entity, often an , that will own the jet, and then structure the operations of the jet in compliance with the s. An owner that violates the s invites FAA scrutiny and, sometimes, enforcement litigation by the FAA or the U.S. Department of Justice, easily causing owners to incur sky-high legal fees. 

    One of the most common problems stems from illegal charters, which take various forms. One rampant violation occurs when Part 91 operators lease their aircraft to many unrelated travelers, which is really a fake charter operation. Another violation often occurs when an LLC with no business enterprise operates the aircraft it owns or leases. The FAA views these flight operations as creating an illegal “flight department company.” When structured improperly, neither the leasing nor the LLC operator (allegedly) holds mandatory FAA certifications as commercial operators under the FARs. 

    Owners also frequently believe the same  provides a liability shield for its owners (members) from third-party liability claims. However, in general, the LLC will not protect the owners from any lawsuit or liability that may ensue from illegal aircraft flight operations or violations of federal or state laws. Although insurance helps mitigate this risk, it is a false premise that insurance suffices or will respond to alleged liability. More risk mitigation structuring and financial exposure analysis can pay off.

    SKIPPING AIRCRAFT INSPECTIONS

    Although I have seen prospective purchasers bypass independent inspections in buying a new or used aircraft, that omission has led to surprises or disputes without an adequate legal remedy. Purchasers typically arrange a visual inspection of a jet and a review of its records.

    If all goes well, an agreed maintenance facility then performs a pre-buy inspection, an in-depth aircraft checkup, and delivers an inspection report to the parties. This report identifies discrepancies that a seller usually fixes before the purchaser accepts or rejects the jet and closes the purchase. Leaving out this step is at best unwise. Beware—finding a facility and completing an inspection may push beyond a closing schedule. 

    NOT EXPLORING AIRCRAFT MANAGEMENT ARRANGEMENTS EARLY AND OFTEN

    Aircraft management companies hold the life of jet owners and passengers in their hands. These companies differ significantly in size, experience, and services. It is critical to conduct due diligence on at least two companies covering safety, service, transparency, integrity, pricing, and FAA status. Choosing based solely on the lowest cost or a referral may needlessly raise personal, asset, and operational risks. 

    A purchaser that does not consult a manager during an initial jet inspection may forfeit valuable hands-on knowledge about the operations and maintenance of the subject aircraft. In contract negotiations, a purchaser, with certain team members, should secure balanced terms in such key areas as safety practices, including Covid-19 protocols, expense controls, travel scheduling, and services provided. 

    NOT CONSIDERING FINANCING BEFORE SIGNING A PURCHASE AGREEMENT

    Even if a purchaser intends to buy a jet with cash, it is still worthwhile to inquire about leasing or borrowing to finance a jet acquisition before signing a purchase agreement. Most purchasers earn far more from their investments or businesses than the current very low rates. It is ideal to close a lease or loan at the purchase date, but either financing can occur later. Using a non-aviation lender or lessor is feasible, but may result in higher transaction fees, slower negotiations, and sub-optimal terms. 

    CONCLUSION

    With the support of an experienced aviation team, a purchaser can complete a simple or complicated acquisition of a business jet smoothly and correctly. As aircraft deal activity rises amid Covid-19 safety concerns, it is worth understanding where mistakes can occur and how to prevent them.

    This article was originally published by AINonline on November 13, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Bonus Depreciation in a COVID World see more

    NAFA member, Air Law Office, P.A. writes about aircraft depreciation bonus under the 2017 Tax Act.

    The IRS is pretty strict when it comes to 100 Percent Bonus Depreciation under the 2017 Tax Act, especially on the fundamentals.

    • Was your aircraft acquired and placed into service after September 27, 2017 and before January 1, 2027 – this one is fairly straightforward
    • Is your aircraft ‘qualified property’
    • Is your depreciable property of a specific type, including tangible property with a recovery period of 20 years or less, such as commercial and non-commercial aircraft – this one is probably affirmative
    • Was your original use of the aircraft the taxpayer’s use or the aircraft was not used by the taxpayer at any time prior to purchase – this one can be a bit tricky
    • Is your aircraft predominantly used for a qualified business use – this is going to be tough in the time of COVID and if you don’t meet 51% ore more qualified business use then you will need to explore an alternative depreciation system (ex., Five Year MACRS)
    • Is your aircraft used predominantly in the United States – this one can be a bit tricky

    There are, of course other nuances like “under contract” and “alternative deprecation models” and if you use your aircraft significantly for nondeductible entertainment travel (ex., vacation) you may be able to take your depreciation and use disallowance percentages to deprecation on a straight-line basis.

    The Bottom Line:  With face-to-face interaction at an all time low, many owners are in danger of loosing their bonus depreciation benefits.  Check in with your financial and legal teams ASAP, before it is too late to address potential pitfalls!  Remember, this article is intended to inform you about issues that you should discuss with your financial and/or legal team and is not intended as legal advice or opinion, you should not act on any information contained in this (or any other) article without directly consulting legal counsel.

    This article was originally published by Air Law Office, P.A. on August 5, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Why Does A Cash-Paying Partner Need To Be On An Aircraft Loan? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers your questions about cash-paying partners on aircraft loans.

    Many lenders require that all partners are on the lien, even if one of those partners is paying cash. In particular it’s fairly common with lower-dollar loan amounts. And frankly, it’s a tradition that should be changed. 

    Lenders need a formal agreement with all parties involved in the ownership of the asset—the aircraft—stating that the lender has a first-priority interest in the aircraft in the event the loan goes into default.

    Generally speaking, there are two methods to achieve that aim. The most efficient way is to have all parties to the transaction attach themselves to the loan, the lien. The second way is by drawing up an addendum document, commonly known as a subordination agreement. The subordination agreement doesn’t tie the cash-paying participant to any of the debts or other obligations assigned in the loan. It’s a stipulation of first position rights by the lender and an acknowledgment by the cash party of that stipulation.

    One of these options is more customer friendly than the other. One is more traditional than the other. Our belief is in an age when loans have become as commoditized as they have become, lenders should emphasize customer service over tradition.

    Lenders might argue that the extra fees generated from creating a subordination agreement is not customer friendly. For instance, for loans between $20K and $50K, that extra cost could approach 4 %. In many a lender’s mind, that additional financial burden on the borrower is more nuisance than convenience.

    In more upmarket transactions, a PC-12, a TBM or a Cirrus, for example, where the loan amount is well north of half a million, lenders tend to be more willing to accommodate. That’s because the added cost as a percentage of the total loan is much smaller and therefore only minimally impacts them.

    We live in a world where people are more willing to pay for convenience. It would behoove banks to offer the option of drawing up subordination agreements for lower value loans if the borrowers believe that to be in their best interest. Doing so relieves the cash partner of loan default liability and credit exposure. And the bank can rightly charge for the convenience.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on July 30, 2020.

     

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    AINsight: 5 Incentives To Finance Business Aircraft see more

    NAFA member, David G. Mayer, Partner at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, shares five important incentives when financing your next business jet.

    The business aviation industry has encountered intense downdrafts this year connected to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ironically, the same forces have increased certain charter flights, spurred newcomer acquisitions of whole and fractional shares in aircraft, and highlighted the value of business aviation.

    Concurrently, the August 27 issue of JetNet iQ Pulse revealed significant untapped interest in borrowing or leasing (financing) to make aircraft acquisitions, stating: “Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and amongst respondents with an opinion, about two-thirds indicate that they plan to use some sort of financing to acquire their next new aircraft.”

    Understanding Today’s Aircraft Finance Markets 

    A few brief insights into the two dominant types of aircraft financing, “true leases” and secured loans, will help understand the interest in financing jet aircraft in a market typically dominated by cash purchases.

    A true aircraft lease is a transfer by an owner/lessor of the right to possession and use of the aircraft to a lessee for a lease term in return for rent and other consideration/value. In a true lease, the lessor provides 100 percent financing by purchasing the aircraft and leasing it to the lessee.

    Lessors expect the lessee to return the aircraft to the lessor at lease expiration, buy it during or at the end of the lease term, or renew the lease. Lessees enjoy the corresponding rights to drop off the aircraft to the lessor and walk away (after meeting the aircraft return conditions), purchasing the aircraft, and renewing the lease.

    A typical aircraft secured loan requires a borrower to grant a “security interest”– a lien –on an aircraft to the lender/secured party to secure the borrower’s payment or performance obligations under the loan documents. A lender does not own the aircraft; it just has an interest in the aircraft as collateral.

    Customers typically borrow between 50 percent and 80 percent of the price of the aircraft and make up the difference with the customers’ cash or, for refinancing, the value of the equity in the aircraft. These percentages fluctuate up or down for different lenders and loan structures, with a relatively few lenders advancing up to 100 percent loan to the value of the aircraft agreeing to a term of up to 20-years.

    Five Incentives To Finance Business Jets      

    Most customers in the U.S. have at least five incentives to finance their next (or first) aircraft:

    • Cheap money. The Federal Reserve (FR) recently announced a policy shift that the FR will average inflation rates to allow about a 2 percent inflation rate before increasing interest rates to tame the inflation. The FRprojects that interest rates will remain near zero for years to come. Financiers should, for the foreseeable future, offer customers very low rates consistent with the FR action.

    • No to low cash outlay. Many potential customers should readily appreciate that, rather than stroking a check for a new or used jet, they can more prudently or profitably use their cash elsewhere in their businesses for capital expenditures, investments, or, particularly during the pandemic, working capital.

    • Tax write-offs. If the lessor adheres to applicable federal tax law, including the lessor’s maintenance of residual value under the federal true lease guidelines, the lessor may be entitled to claim bonus depreciation on the new or used leased aircraft per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

    In a loan transaction, the borrower, as the owner, may be entitled to bonus depreciation of the aircraft and other tax write-offs allowed under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act plus bonus depreciation despite some personal use of the aircraft.

    • Lessor/lender competition. Most aircraft lenders and lessors compete aggressively on interest rates or lease economics to win business to the extent consistent with their respective business models, regulatory constraints, and internal credit policies. However, financiers will, except for the most creditworthy customers, expect customers to sign documentation that contains strong covenants, defaults, and other restrictive terms on aircraft and business operations.

    • Customized lease and loan structures. Structuring lease and loans constitute an integral part of competition among financiers. To facilitate planning and cost management of aircraft operations, a lessor can, within tax and other limits, create flexible structures that contain fixed and variable rents, options to purchase the aircraft during the lease term or at lease expiration, terminate the lease during the lease term or renew the lease term at lease expiration.

    Lenders can offer various loan structures that drive down periodic loan payments and achieve other customer goals. These loans might include a payment term of five to 12 years, asset-based financing (that primarily relies on aircraft value for re-payment), one large “balloon” or total principal payment at the end of the loan term, 10- to 20-year amortization periods, interest-only structures, and limited personal guarantees. Borrowers should negotiate early payoff rights so they can, at will, exit the relationship, refinance the aircraft loan, or use available cash to pay off the loan.

    Conclusion

    Though cash is king for many aircraft buyers, up to 70 percent of potential business aircraft owners or operators intend to finance the acquisition of their next new aircraft. The same should roughly be true for anyone interested in acquiring a used aircraft.

    Such financing can afford these potential customers cheap interest/rent rates, no or low cash use, and an immediate opportunity to buy or lease aircraft. For the business aviation industry, any boost in transaction volume this year, prompted by an expansion of financing, would be most welcome and perhaps generate a little optimism for a better 2021.

    This article was originally published in AINonline on September 11, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Difficulties Financing an Aircraft for Leaseback see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the challenges of financing aircraft leased back to a flight school or flying club due to higher-than-normal aircraft usage.

    The usage equates to two things: number of hours flown annually and the type of hours flown. Aircraft leased back to flying clubs will typically accrue fewer hours than those leased to a flight school. Additionally, flight training hours will be harder on an aircraft’s engine and airframe because students and inexperienced pilots are harder on equipment than experienced pilots.

    The flying club may go so far as to stipulate that members can’t join without a certain level of experience. A privately-owned airplane is flying a lot at 100 hours per year. An airplane on leaseback to a flying club could fly 200-300 hours per year. A popular flight school might see double that. More hours on the engine mean more hours on the airframe, lowering the airplane’s value. When it comes to the engine, that accelerated use could force an overhaul before typically anticipated in an amortization schedule, significantly eroding an airplane’s market value. This is what makes lenders nervous.

    For example, let’s take a 1980 Cessna 182 worth $100K with a mid-time engine and decent avionics and interior. The prospective buyer wants to lease back to a flying club. Let’s say the lender values the same aircraft at TBO at $85K but also expects you to reach TBO in a certain number of years under normal usage. For a leaseback to a flying club, the lender might typically expect to see 150-250 hours a year. A lender can tolerate 300 hours or maybe even 350 hours, but higher than that and depreciation accelerates. Additionally, instead of an overhaul in five to seven years, you’ll need one in two or three.

    For these reasons, lenders have a minimum loan of $100K and require a 30% down payment to finance a plane destined for flight school or flying club leaseback. So $30K down and then a $30K overhaul in two-three years means an owner essentially has put $60K cash into a plane that’s worth $105K with the overhauled engine.

    Some aircraft are more likely leaseback candidates than others. A $400K or $500K SR22 is a good example. This could be ideal for a flying club or for a flight school that also rents aircraft. It’s also worth noting there are some options for leaseback to flying clubs with only 25% down and a $25K minimum loan amount, but the aircraft must be owned personally, not in an LLC. Give AOPA Aviation Finance a call if this is a situation you’d like to explore. Depending upon the current residual value in your aircraft, there might be room for a deal.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on July 9, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Your Private Air Transportation Options – Making An Informed Decision and Executing It Correctly see more

    NAFA member, Anthony Kioussis with Asset Insight, hosts their latest podcast "Aircraft Ownership Lifecycle Podcast" featuring NAFA member, Lee Rohde President and CEO of Essex Aviation Group.  

    Lee Rohde discusses how the consulting company he founded advises aviation-related entities on a wide range of aircraft acquisition, strategic planning, financial, operational and management matters. Specifically, Lee covers:

    • Private Air Transportation options – what should prospective users consider in reviewing their options for meeting their travel requirements?
    • In the event an entity determines they want to acquire an aircraft, how should they go about identifying the best model to meet their travel requirements?
    • What factors have the greatest influence on the decision to acquire a new vs. a pre-owned aircraft?
    • The issues and complexities associated with refurbishing or upgrading a pre-owned aircraft.
    • The expertise an entity should secure if they are planning an aircraft acquisition.
    • The factors to be considered when determining an Offer Price for an aircraft.
    • What a pre-purchase inspection entails and why it is such an important part of acquisition process.

    Listen to the podcast here.  

    This podcast was originally published by Asset Insight.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Do Most Lenders Offer 100% Financing? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, answers aircraft financing questions.

    Question: I’m working with a broker who indicates he has lenders who will do 100% financing as long as the purchase price leaves at least 15% equity in the purchase.  From looking at some of his planes he is selling with 0 down, it looks like he isn’t fibbing. Rates are fixed and vary from 4.2-4.9% (presumably based on credit score) and they are 20-year term loans with no penalties.  

    Is this something that can be done by most lenders or is this specific to whatever lenders he may be working with? 

    Answer: The short answer is no, most lenders won’t finance more than 85% of the purchase price.

    Here’s the logic behind that decision. If you were to negotiate the purchase price down from $100k to $85k it really wasn’t worth $100k. That’s not to say you couldn’t turn around and potentially find a buyer for $100k, you might, especially if you were willing to spend money for marketing and were willing to wait it out for the right buyer to come along. The banks, however, know that if they had to sell the asset, they’re going to look to get out of it as expeditiously as possible and turn it into cash so they can then turn around and lend it back out. That’s why they typically require 15% down on the lesser of the purchase amount or the aircraft value amount.

    More than likely in the scenario you’re discussing (where you have only slightly higher than market rates and 0% down), the broker has an agreement with their lender(s) whereby they will cover any shortfall resulting from a buyer default. This is typically done by an agreement to buy the airplane back at an agreed upon amount.

    The potential bigger problem though with regard to 0% down financing is if there’s a macro event that causes the market to drop 10-20%, when you go to sell the airplane you’re likely going to be upside down in value. Which means you’ll either have to come out of pocket to sell or else keep the airplane until the situation gets better.

    My advice would be to put at least 15% down to give yourself a hedge regardless of what you negotiate in purchase amount. 

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Asset Insight Launches Podcast Series Focusing on the Aircraft Ownership Lifecycle see more

    July 7, 2020 – Asset Insight today announced the launch of a new podcast series, available through the company’s website (www.assetinsight.com) and across all podcast platforms, free of charge. The library of episodes is stocked with 15 to 30-minute sessions focused on all segments of the Business & General Aviation aircraft ownership lifecycle – Acquiring, Financing, Operating, Maintaining and Selling. Host Anthony Kioussis visits with expert guests from numerous industry organizations and sectors who offer best practices, timely advice, proven principles, and explore specific aspects of the business aviation industry.

    The Asset Insight Podcast library presently features 8 episodes, including sessions with Jay Mesinger at Mesinger Jets; Jim Blessing at Air Fleet Capital; Shelly Svoren at First Republic Bank; Lee Rohde at Essex Aviation; Jim Simpson at First Republic Bank; René Bangelsdorf at Charlie Bravo Aviation; Janine Iannarelli at Par Avion Ltd; and Ryan Waguespack with NATA. More podcasts will be made available each week.

    “Asset Insight is in a unique position to bring aviation professionals together to hold timely discussions in short, interesting, educational and entertaining on-demand podcasts.” said Tony Kioussis, president of Asset Insight, LLC and host of the series. “This new aviation podcast series offers our community the opportunity to select episodes and topics on their schedule, and according to their interest and business segment. As many of us work from home to maintain safe social distancing, our podcasts allow people to remain connected. The podcasts can also assist new personnel entering the industry; people that would otherwise find it challenging to secure such information.”

    Asset Insight Podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, www.assetinsight.com http://www.assetinsightpodcast.com, and wherever you get your podcasts.

    This release was originally published by Asset Insight on July 7, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    With Rates Still Falling, Am I Better Off With a Floating Rate? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses adjustable rates and your aircraft purchase. 

    The classic answer is, "It depends." The answer lies in what your time horizon is for holding onto the aircraft you are buying.

    Most lenders offering adjustable rates will have an interest rate floor. And for most of them, that floor is only slight lower than where rates are currently. Remember, lenders have floors because they incur real costs in lending money and also seen rates go negative. Interest rate floors allow them to cover their costs and remain solvent. Therefore, while anyone with an adjustable rate could benefit if rates drop slightly and/or stay flat, borrowers with longer-term hold time horizon risk paying more when interest rates start eventually going back up.

    That said, the latest economic projections indicate the current economic situation we find ourselves in is likely to last between 18 months and two years. Given that the average hold time is somewhere around four years, that means there are a number of people who are holding their aircraft for only a couple of years or less. So, if your time horizon to own an aircraft is less than a couple of years, then yes, absolutely, this is a great time to look at floating rates.

    If your hold time is greater than two to three years, you risk becoming exposed to interest rates floating higher when the economy starts picking up steam. It's not unlikely that the Fed may increase rates in order to stave off inflation. That'll increase the cost of your loan.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Finance on April 30, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Sounding Board: Five Minutes With Shawn Vick, Global Jet Capital Chairman, CEO see more

    NAFA member, Shawn Vick, Chairman and CEO of Global Jet Capital, discusses business aviation.

    Shawn Vick is the chairman and CEO of Global Jet Capital, which helps corporations and individuals with the leasing and financing of new and pre- owned business jets. Vick has held leadership positions at British Aerospace, Gulfstream Aerospace, Bombardier, Landmark Aviation and Hawker Beechcraft. He is also a partner and member of the investment committee for AE Industrial Partners, a private equity firm. And he is a private pilot.

    Q. At the National Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition in October, Global Jet Capital had been having a banner year with an increase in the leasing and financing of business aircraft. Things changed suddenly with the COVID-19 pandemic. What is happening in the pre-owned market today?

    A. Leading up to March the pre-owned market–frankly the entire transaction market, new or pre-owned–was performing well when compared to the same period last year. Activity began to slow late in the first quarter as the virus took hold and demanded everyone’s attention. I think the beginning of this story is now well understood. Global reaction to the virus resulted in a fundamental shutdown of the world’s economies and business aviation was no different. As we sit here today, in the middle of May, flight activity is beginning to pick up–which is a very good sign. Transaction activity remains slow but has not ceased, and we feel there are a lot of owners and operators sitting tight right now waiting to see how this situation evolves. Despite the uncertainty, one thing is very clear–business aviation in the context of a global pandemic will be the most desired form of transportation as the world begins to get back to work.

    Q. What is your focus now?

    A. Since the beginning of this crisis, we’ve been primarily focused on the health and well-being of our employees. This began in February with the shutdown of our Hong Kong office and a full review of our disaster recovery plan, which includes a chapter on managing the business remotely. Since that time our Zurich, Danbury, [Connecticut]; Boca Raton, [Florida]; and Mexico City offices closed, and we have all been working remotely. While it’s been far from ideal, with the support of our video conferencing platform it’s been surprisingly efficient. We’ve also been using this “pause” in industry activity to focus attention on internal operating efficiency projects, including the transition to a new operating platform and commercial excellence initiatives. With respect to our current portfolio, we’ve naturally been paying very close attention and I’m happy to report the portfolio is performing very well. From a new business perspective, we entered 2020 with a very healthy backlog fueled by a new predelivery payment financing product we launched last year. As the crisis took hold, we managed to close several deals that were in late stages, and we are currently working with a number of clients on lease renewals and extensions. Moving forward, we are now beginning to explore reopening offices and getting our employees back to work in the safest way possible and in line with local government guidelines.

    Q. What do you see for business aviation in the near term?

    A. I think the answer to that question lies in the duration and severity of the financial disruption, and I’m not sure anyone has a crystal ball right now. But if the disruption is limited and we are heading in the right direction in the July/August time frame, with the economy beginning to rebound and the unemployment rate falling, I think that bodes well for our industry. These aircraft are as precious as they’ve ever been, particularly when one’s safety and security are a priority and you factor in social distancing. I think the bottom line is quite simple: If you can afford these assets, you’re going to keep these assets–and if you don’t have one and you can afford one, you’re likely going to acquire one.

    Q. What about aircraft values?

    A. I really think it’s too soon to say, but there is data we can look at for guidance, likely the most important of which comes from the OEM production environment. Most industry analysts are predicting a drop in new deliveries in the 30% range, meaning roughly 450 deliveries this year versus the original projections that were well above 700. And, it’s important to note, these are supply side forecasts at this stage–not demand side. As difficult as this is for the entire ecosystem, it may well act as a guardrail against significant devaluation. Also, we are not seeing a rash of distressed sales or a spike in new aircraft being listed for sale. In fact, these numbers have been coming down in recent weeks. Our sense is that owners and operators understand the value of these assets in this new context and are sitting tight as the situation unfolds.

    Q. How does this downturn compare to the recession of 2008 and 2009?

    A. It’s interesting that so much of the speculation is based on comparisons with 2008, when there is not much correlation. In 2008 the cause of the economic disruption was widespread failures in the banking systems that put the capital markets in a state of seizure. Right now, we’re dealing with the impact of a global pandemic. In comparison to 2008, government reaction and intervention has been swift and expansive. From an industry perspective, OEM production has been curtailed in a disciplined fashion to protect people–but the by-product is protection of backlogs and ultimately aircraft values. This is clearly a different environment.

    Q. What about the health of the business aircraft manufacturers?

    A. If you look at the impact of the Great Recession, several of the manufacturers got caught between a rock and a hard place with an almost instantaneous shutdown of market demand coupled with long supply chain agreements that were difficult to contractually modify. They really had no choice but to drive new product into a down market. Today, as a result of those lessons learned, the OEMs and the entire supply chain is far more agile. At this stage, this is a supply side problem resulting from shutdowns and furloughs across the entire ecosystem designed to stall the spread of the pandemic. From my perspective, everybody went into this situation together and everybody’s going to come out of it together.

    Q. What do you foresee as the split in demand from the North American and international markets?

    A. During the buildup leading to the Great Recession, the market shifted from being heavily dominated by the U.S. to a 60-40% international versus domestic split. Everyone thought that was going to be the new normal as the BRIC countries [Brazil, Russia, India and China] flourished. But as we now know, due to a variety of internal and external factors, with exception to China, the BRICs have not dominated the global economy as once predicted. The result, in term of business aircraft, is that over the past decade we’ve seen a dramatic shift back to U.S. dominance of this market. This dominance will likely ebb and flow to some extent over time, but there’s not a lot of data to support a major shift back to international dominance.

    Q. Are there any concerns on the international front?

    A. The sooner we can get through our current trade dispute with our largest trading partner and sit down at the table and have productive, meaningful and material discussions rather than throwing sticks and stones at each other and turning this pandemic into a political discussion, I think the better off we’ll all be. I also believe that will ease tensions, creating a more positive environment for the global cooperation that will be required to get the world’s economy working gain. I’m off my soapbox.

    Q. How has aircraft financing changed or not changed so far?

    A. Unlike the Great Recession, where the global banking system suffered from a near-complete lack of liquidity and the capital markets seized up, the banking system right now is in good shape. Liquidity is sound and capital is available. Despite this, lenders are being very cautious for the time being. This is completely in line with the overall industry “pause” that we are all experiencing. The aircraft financing industry will continue to monitor the overall economic environment and the health of the business jet market in order to better understand the impact this disruption is having on demand and, more importantly, aircraft values. Let’s face it: Finance and uncertainty do not coexist very well, and you could argue that we are currently at a point of maximum uncertainty. As the impact of the pandemic becomes clearer and key market indicators related to supply and demand settle into a new normal, the aircraft financing industry will follow suit.

    This article was originally published by Molly McMillin of Aviation Week on May 18, 2020.

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    Webinar: Ready to Buy & Fly? see more

    Educational Webinar Covers Best Practices & Acquisition Strategies Teaming Strategies

    Are you thinking about purchasing an aircraft? It can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, but there are experienced industry professionals who are ready to help.

    In a free educational webinar on May 28 2020, Essex Aviation President and CEO Lee Rohde joined GKG Law Principal Chris Younger to talk about everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing an aircraft.

    The webinar, Ready to Buy & Fly? Best Practices & Teaming Strategies for a Successful Aircraft Acquisition, includes resources, tips, and information on the following topics:

    • Steps to a successful aircraft transaction (including a week-by-week timeline!)
    • The necessary parties you should include when it comes to purchasing a plane, including:
      • CFO, CEO, and the COO
      • Corporate general counsel
      • An aircraft technical consultant
      • Commercial lender
      • And many more
    • Key closing checklist items
    • Potential post-closing issues
    • Net operating loss (NOL) carrybacks and The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    Essex Aviation handles everything from new and pre-owned aircraft acquisitions to private jet charter counseling and membership. GKG Law works with purchase and sale transactions, aircraft ownership, federal and state tax planning, aircraft ownership trusts, and more.

    To find out more about purchasing an aircraft or to ask our industry experts any questions, contact Essex Aviation today.

    View Webinar Here

    This webinar hosted by Essex Aviation and GKG Law originally aired on May 28, 2020.

     

  • NAFA Administrator posted an article
    How is the Coronavirus Affecting the Closing Process for Aircraft? see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the challenges of aircraft closings during the Coronavirus pandemic.

    Unlike real estate, where the exchanged property does not move, the challenge with closing on an aircraft is that eventually it must be flown to its new home. It’s a rare transaction where buyers purchase an airplane from their home airfield. Therefore, how to legally move the aircraft is one major concern for buyers during the coronavirus pandemic. Another is how to get a pre-buy inspection done.

    First, there is the sticky problem of getting an aircraft inspected. It’s not clear whether maintenance and repair shops are currently open to perform pre-buy inspections, or whether their employees can even report to work. Some states have not deemed aviation techs “essential.” What jobs are deemed “essential,” how, and by whom such job designations will be enforced remains up in the air. Even if aviation techs are, parts suppliers might not be. That means needed parts may not get delivered. In normal times, a closing might take 30 days. In these abnormal times, plan on the process stretching to 45 days or more.

    Beyond that, is it legal for a ferry pilot or the new owner to fly an airplane from the airport where it is hangared to its new home base?  State laws vary on the subject. How complicated it will be to transport the aircraft may depend on factors like the route of flight and the number of states involved. Is the airplane going from California to Maine? Or from Wisconsin to Indiana? One has to ask oneself, “Am I going to have a challenge from this state?” Other questions follow, including, “Which governing body would enforce such a challenge — state or federal?” “Is it within FAA or state jurisdiction?” None of that is easy to navigate.

    If you can imagine the difficulty of flying from one European country to another and having to deal with the balkanized ATC system there, then you have some idea of the current complexity surrounding moving an aircraft across state lines during this pandemic. At AOPA Aviation Finance, (“AAF”), our advice is to call AOPA’s Legal Services to get better clarity on your specific situation.

    That is a great benefit of AOPA, having multiple resources all in one place. This complex situation is the perfect time to tap into them.

    Great advice. Great rates. From helpful and responsive reps you can trust. Three good reasons to turn to AOPA Aviation Finance when you are buying an airplane. If you need a dependable source of financing with people who are on your side, just call 800.62.PLANE (800.627.5263), or click here to request a quote.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on April 30, 2020.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    Best Time to Sell an Older Jet see more

    NAFA member, Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, discusses the ideal time to sell an older aircraft. 

    Above and beyond the upfront cost savings, benefits to acquiring a used jet in great condition include avoiding much of the increased depreciation that besets aircraft in those early years. Of note to sellers, the inventory for well-maintained, 15-year old or younger turbine aircraft is severely limited. That translates into high demand and a market that's in your favor.

    As with many things, putting an older, well-maintained jet on the market involves the right timing. It may sound counterintuitive, but the best time to sell an older jet is right after you’ve done the scheduled, heavy maintenance on it, after you've brought your jet up to date on all of its maintenance events. 

    A jet's optimum selling price point occurs when the aircraft has its lowest maintenance exposure to asking price ratio (ETP). That ratio is expressed as the value of an aircraft as a percentage of unaddressed maintenance due on an aircraft versus the overall market value of the aircraft. When the ETP is at its lowest is also when the aircraft is most desirable. That's why historically, planes that have the lowest ETP tend to sell the quickest. 

    To be clear, this does not include avionics upgrades, only scheduled maintenance. Retrofitting avionics on older jets is not just an expensive proposition, it's also a subjective one. The vast range of options available make it virtually impossible to please everybody. Plus, the money a seller sinks into new avionics probably will not be recouped in the sale. It's better therefore to let the new buyer install the avionics suite of their dreams post-acquisition.

    If it's possible, coordinating the completion of heavy maintenance items with the start of the last quarter of the calendar allows the owner of an older, well-maintained jet to take advantage of the best calendar time of the year to sell it--September through December. That's because many businesses have a fiscal year and a calendar year that parallel each other. Those that do tend to more closely assess ways to manage their bottom line as they approach Q4. That heightened focus on the year-end clarifies whether selling the jet or acquiring one is an appropriate income offset option. For many, it's the perfect time.

    And then there's the tax incentive. When the dollar amounts are more significant and an aircraft is used in business—the possibility of a tax deduction of 100% of the cost of the aircraft does exist, based on the current tax law in place.

    To be fair, getting to 100% is really difficult and the inherent landmines are many. At AOPA Aviation Finance, we strongly advise anybody pursuing that goal to talk to their tax experts before attempting such a course of action. I should also point out that the latest regulations that came through in 2017 closed some significant aviation-related loopholes. For instance, capital gains deferment into another aircraft purchase is no longer a legal option. A discussion with your accountant on how you’re going to manage your tax liability is a must. When you do go to sell, there will be capital gains tax implications. 

    Bottom line: If you own a well-maintained, older jet and it's fresh out of maintenance, now's the best time to consider selling it. ETP is low and demand is high.

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on November 18, 2019.

  • Tracey Cheek posted an article
    If It Seems Too Good To Be True... see more

    NAFA member Adam Meredith, President of AOPA Aviation Finance Company, shares what's important when financing your aircraft. 

    Thanks to recent, historically low interest rates, AOPA Aviation Finance (“AAF”) has been approached more and more frequently with similar versions of the same story. It goes like this: Somebody they know got a fantastic offer with a phenomenal rate--like 2.9%--on their latest airplane acquisition. Then they want to know if they can get the same deal. When we tell them the reality of that happening is extremely slim, disappointment is always the resulting sentiment. 

    Here’s why deals like that just don’t happen. A bank must make money on the loans it services, otherwise it fails. It costs banks money to acquire the money they loan to customers. The rate they pay for that money is called the “cost of funds.” For example, they might buy a five-year note from the Treasury at 1.66%. That is their cost of funds. The difference between the lending rate charged to their customers and a bank’s cost of funds is the “net interest margin.”

    That net interest margin is a bank’s primary income stream. All expenses, from salaries to rent to utilities, etc. are debited from that net interest margin. Those healthy reserves banks must maintain to cover losses from bad loans also come out of that same source. Even though the cost of funds for each bank is unique to their circumstances, that figure is typically based upon a universally-recognized benchmark like the overall yield curve of the US Treasuries.

    For illustrative purposes, let’s say the bank bought five-year Treasury notes @ 1.66%. Their cost of business is 166 basis points. Typically, banks tend to start lending at 200 basis points above their cost of business. Let’s face it, that starting point is for a bank’s best customers—folks with cash collateral, amazing credit, are well-known to the bank, etc. Doing the math, 200 basis points above a 1.66% cost of business equals 366, or 3.66%, so….

    For a bank to offer a client a 2.9% interest rate, or 290 basis points, on an aircraft loan, given the above example would mean the bank would have to be willing to reduce its net interest margin from 200 basis points to only 124. What would possess a bank structure such a “skinny deal?” After all, as one of my graduate school finance professors used to repeat incessantly, “There’s no free lunch.” 

    A deep-pocketed client who is very familiar to the lending bank and whose investments are already being fee-managed by that bank could be one reason a bank might make an exception to the rule. AOPA Aviation Finance recently brokered a super mid cabin, new aircraft deal valued at over 20 million dollars. The borrower had an existing relationship with a bank where AAF had an existing relationship with its aircraft group. The bank wasn't aware that our client was looking to purchase an aircraft, and the client wasn’t aware his bank had an aircraft financing group.

    Because we had relationships with both, we were able to articulate the reasons for keeping the deal in-house. The bank was already very familiar with the client and his financials; the bank’s aviation group had done several deals of this size and type before; the client’s substantial financial holdings with the bank allowed the bank to stipulate, and the borrower to agree to, using his accounts as collateral for the loan. 

    Banks love to leverage liquid assets over the airplane. It’s much easier to reach into an account to make oneself whole if a loan goes bad than it is to sell an aircraft, no matter how popular the model. And not insignificantly, pointing out that allowing another bank to finance the aircraft would open the door to that other financial institution potentially enticing the client (and their money) away, helped motivate our client getting, far and away, the most competitive rate and best structure possible.

    Still, that’s a very rare, real world example. That said, AOPA Aviation Finance may find great deals for folks who’ve got investments with certain lenders. At the end of the day, whether your financial situation is typical or “unicorn,” our process will match you up with the best lender for your circumstances. 

    This article was originally published by AOPA Aviation Finance Company on December 10, 2019.