Air Transport World

As bad as it gets? As bad as it is, the aircraft market and the potential for aircraft values could get worse before the recovery begins. (Special Section).

As big airlines continue to reduce their fleets, delay deliveries of many new planes and park more old ones in the desert, it would be nice if persons buying, selling and leasing commercial aircraft could look forward to some light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, they can't.

Market watchers are unanimous in their gloom. For aircraft dealers, the adage "Things are never so bad they can't get better" would be restated more properly as "Things are never so bad they can't get worse."

Experts predict some eventual consolidation among aircraft leasing/financing companies, or some getting out of the business altogether. Of course things will turn around eventually--as in every business cycle--but no one is willing to predict when that might happen. When it does, experts say, the industry will look different. And at this writing, the prospect of war isn't making the market outlook any brighter.

There have been market downturns before, but "this one is clearly worse than any of them," says Fred Klein, president of Aviation Specialists Group in Herndon, Va. …

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