Wings Magazine

Brought to you by Levaero Aviation
The aircraft market insider

June 27, 2024 in News Sponsored
By David Carr

Soaring through Monument Valley, the Pilatus PC-12 NGX holds advanced avionics, cabin design, and the PT6 E-Series engine. (Photo: Pilatus Aircraft)

Buying a private airplane is one of the most significant investments a customer will make. In a buyer-beware environment, the best market intelligence and guidance will pay dividends over the long run. Levaero Aviation is a leader in the Canadian corporate aviation market.

The process of purchasing a corporate aircraft is more complex than the purchase of other big-ticket items such as a house. Even then, most buyers would not consider entering the market without the advice of a professional and experienced real estate broker. Buying an aircraft is no different.

“First and foremost, buying an airplane is an investment into your business or personal life, affording you more effective use of your time,” says Stan Kuliavas, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Levaero Aviation, one of Canada’s largest aircraft brokerages with 26 years of experience buying and selling aircraft around the world. “It requires the same meticulous, strategic approach that goes into making any capital investment.”

Kuliavas says, that even for the most hardened decision maker, there is an emotional aspect to acquiring an aircraft and much to take into consideration. Doing online research early in the process can help, but only to a point. Answers to difficult questions need a level of market expertise that the internet will not provide. “Often, a potential customer doesn’t yet know what they don’t know, especially first-time buyers,” he adds.

There are basic steps to purchasing a corporate aircraft, including: 1) Understanding your travel needs and establishing a budget; 2) Sourcing various aircraft make and model options, with early due diligence on those aircraft; 3) Submitting an offer, along with negotiation of price and terms; and 4) A formal Aircraft Purchase Agreement, an in-depth inspection of the aircraft, and addressing legal and regulatory items.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface sits a lengthy checklist of considerations specific to each situation. Get one wrong and the buyer could be locked into an expensive piece of machinery that is not fully fit for their purpose.

“It all comes down to the broker,” Kuliavas says. “Behind every professional broker is a team of experts that will locate the right aircraft anywhere in the world, skilled negotiators who understand the market and will secure the best deal possible, and connections to a network of external professionals who will work through due diligence, regulatory filings and risk mitigation.”

Pilatus extended the payload-range of its PC-24 Super Versatile Jet to 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometres) with six passengers. (Photo: Pilatus Aircraft)

Finding the right broker should be the first weighty decision for a buyer to make. But where to look? Accreditation is key, Kuliavas says: “This is an unregulated industry. The buyer needs to insure themselves by choosing a broker that is experienced, reputable, and adheres to the highest global standards.”

Levaero is one of an exclusive number of top brokers worldwide that is an accredited member of the prestigious International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA), a self-regulating body made up of 17 per cent of the world’s brokers, who account for close to 50 per cent of all previously owned aircraft transactions. This provides Levaero’s customers full confidence they are dealing with a reputable broker that can access the widest range of listed and ‘off-market’ aircraft options.

Beginning with the pandemic, the number of aircraft transactions occurring off-market increased significantly, meaning, that without the right broker, a customer may never know about their ideal aircraft option.

Travel needs and setting a budget
The versatile Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprop is one of the world’s most-popular, entry-level aircraft. As the exclusive Pilatus dealer in Canada, Levaero holds a wealth of experience working with first-time customers.

“It doesn’t matter whether this is your first time, or if you are a seasoned buyer looking to upgrade your aircraft, the bottom line is that an aircraft is a tool,” Kuliavas says. “It will not only make your current travel more efficient, but it will allow you to access those destinations that have been put on the side burner because they are inconvenient to reach; or require multiple airline connections – potentially adding days to a trip. The right aircraft allows you to maximize the efficiency of your time.”

Sourcing the right airplane
In addition to its team of aircraft brokers boasting more than 75 years of combined aircraft acquisition and sales experience, Levaero has internal expert market analysts who actively track various aircraft markets to understand not only what is listed and what is coming to market, but also to offer a unique understanding of market trends, pricing patterns, and opportunities not available elsewhere. In 2023, Levaero released Canada’s first-ever market intelligence report, focusing solely on the Canadian aviation market, including trends in aircraft ownership, detailed analysis of market activity and pricing trends. The 2024 edition of the market report was released in May.

A cabin interior of the new Pilatus PC-12 NGX. (Photo: Pilatus Aircraft)

Letter of intent
Once a selection of aircraft has been evaluated, and a preferred unit settled on, a Letter of Intent (LOI) is sent to the seller. This document sets out terms and conditions of a buyer’s offer, including arrangements for prepurchase inspection, among other items.

Price negotiation
“We live in a market where sellers are free to ask whatever they want for their aircraft. But that is all it is, an ask,” Kuliavas says, as a skilled aircraft negotiator of more than 18 years. “Our team works with proprietary real-time market data to understand comparable transactions, along with make and model trends, so that our customers are armed with the information they need to make good-value purchase decisions.”

Aircraft purchase agreement and delivery
“The Aircraft Purchase Agreement (APA) is the document governing your aircraft transaction. It should always be reviewed by a lawyer with aviation expertise, as there can be legal nuances unique to aircraft transactions,” Kuliavas says. “An aviation escrow service is often used as a neutral third-party to handle the financial and documentation requirements. This is especially the case with cross-border transactions. We are sourcing aircraft from around the world, and that can bring with it various challenges.”

For a customer-focused broker like Levaero, the final step of aircraft acquisition is just the beginning of a long journey. “We always look at an aircraft purchase as part of a long-term relationship and not a one-off transaction,” Kuliavas says. “Throughout the course of their ownership, customers will have questions or may be looking for added support. We are here to help them navigate all aspects of aircraft ownership and we are big proponents in building long-term relationships.”

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