"Secure – Simplify – Execute":
Why the worldwide business jet trade requires the highest degree of professionalism
The complexity of an aircraft transaction is not immediately apparent - how important the professional approach is and which pitfalls should be avoided, we explain here in detail.
Extremely specialized, highly complex in terms of content, technology and law – and always exciting: There are few markets that are as unpredictable and dynamic as the global private- and business jet trade.
It’s easy to understand why:
First, as a rule, there is a great deal of money involved. Second, like the aircraft itself, that money has to be transferred across national borders or even between continents in many cases, which makes the process much more complicated. Third, for this reason, both parties to a transaction have a strong need for security and transparency – which must always be taken into account in the often lengthy processing of transactions.
The fact that such transactions are successfully concluded despite the enormous effort involved is mainly due to the fact that both buyer and seller have a strong interest in the success of the deal. It’s often a third party who forms the central bridge and who professionally manages the transaction, keeps an eye on the details and can be relied on at every stage!
Aero Dienst is such a partner…
... and Andreas Strabel leaves no doubt about it.
The graduate industrial engineer has been working for the aviation service provider for 18 years now and has been responsible for the Sales and Marketing and Aircraft Sales divisions since 2015.
Having taken over and further established the Aircraft Sales department from his predecessor, Armin Höhnemann (who also had been with the company for many years), he has become the "face" of the Nuremberg-based company when it comes to national and international transactions in the business and ambulance jet sector.
"From the outside, one often imagines that this is a small, highly specialized and very straightforward market,” says Strabel. “However, since the aircraft trade involves millions of dollars or euros, there is a surprisingly high number of players in this narrow segment: brokers, banks and other financiers specializing in aircraft trading or less specialized, plus many types of reputable and less reputable brokers and self-appointed specialists.
This makes it difficult for both buyers and sellers to conduct their business on a solid basis."
If you want to reach your goal safely and with a manageable effort, you have to avoid a multitude of pitfalls...
„The aircraft trade is in the majority of cases an international business. New models are often offered by manufacturers in France, the USA, Brazil or Canada, while pre-owned models are traded all over the world. Of course, such transnational processes make it difficult to carry out a secure and transparent purchase transaction – regardless of the reliability of the buyers and sellers.
The main problem here is that even transactions that have already been completed can fail due to the multitude of import and export restrictions and the countless regulations that are involved – and even literally at the last minute.
For example, Halon (which is used in many fire extinguishing systems and mobile fire extinguishers in aircraft) can’t be exported from the EU without showing a valid ‘ODS license’ to customs, which must be applied for in time from the European Commission. If it is proven that this is not the case, then the aircraft will not be cleared for export by customs and, as a result, there will be a delay of several days for the transaction, which is very annoying for everyone involved.“
We’re also always being challenged as a mediator!
"Because of this multitude of pitfalls lurking in every phase of a deal, Aero-Dienst is constantly challenged in its role as intermediary and advisor in the transaction," says Strabel.
The advantage: "With our decades of know-how and expertise, we know from experience how to successfully meet such challenges. Less pleasant," he admits, "is the high degree of volatility and uncertainty that also exists for the broker: Whether the sensitivities of buyers or sellers have changed in the meantime or, for example, the financial situation of one of the parties has fundamentally changed, even with optimal preparation, we must never forget that a transaction between buyer and seller can fail at the very last minute."
So there seem to be many good reasons to take an experienced partner on board when buying or selling an aircraft; how can these reasons be summarized in a nutshell?
"Above all else, there is a mature network competence. A wide-ranging network ensures that we as partners can find the best possible aircraft for our customers that meets their specific requirements. Network competence also means that we know the market — including worldwide.
For example, there are currently around two hundred ninety Falcon 7Xs in active service worldwide. If one of these aircraft is for sale, we know about it, or we contact the owner or his representative directly to find out whether there is interest in selling it. We can then pass this information on to our customers and then contact the seller.
This network competence is something we have worked hard to achieve. It guarantees the customer the highest level of security throughout the entire purchase process – especially when it comes to involving other participants in the process.
In the more than sixty years in which we have been operating as an aviation service provider, we have been able to build up a first-class reputation. And this reputation is also reflected in our public image. When Aero-Dienst appears on the market as an intermediary in the purchase or sale of aircraft, the other participants know that highly complex business will be handled reliably and thoroughly respectably.
We owe this first-class reputation in the market not least to our technical expertise, especially in conjunction with our commercial knowledge of aircraft operations. As far as the first phase of the transaction is concerned, we have access to first-class information that aids our customers in their decision to buy or sell. In addition, we have a comprehensive overview of the costs and expenses incurred in the operation of a business jet, especially at the interface between technical and commercial matters. Accordingly, we are always in a position to provide our customers with a realistic estimate, for example when calculating the costs for the life cycle of operating a particular aircraft model.
The third important aspect named by Strabel is primarily an expansion of our network competence: "It lies in the special customer structure that we have built up over the past decades."
As Strabel expressly emphasizes, this is by no means a "champagne clientele that likes to indulge in luxury even above the clouds," but rather experienced aviation companies that carry out business charters and ambulance flights with their aircraft, or companies, including corporate flight departments that already operate their own company aircraft or entrepreneurs or executives for whom the use of their own jet is a clear advantage, especially for professional reasons.
"Especially for this target group, the possibility of being able to use their own aircraft means maximum flexibility, planning reliability, safety and speed, especially when it comes to business travel.
It is important that we inform these customers about all aspects of operating an aircraft. This starts in the preliminary stages with showing customers all the advantages and disadvantages of buying an aircraft as a strategic investment, from acquisition to flight operations to possible resale. Basically, these three core competencies are incorporated into all phases of the purchasing process."
1. „Consulting“ – advice in the pre-purchase phase
Do you not yet know which aircraft type is the right one for you? We take your requirements for your future business jet and find out together with you which model meets your needs and mission profile.
2. „ Market analysis“
Have you already found your aircraft type? We sound out the market in search of the jets available worldwide and check whether the equipment and history of each individual serial number matches your needs. If you wish to purchase a brand new model, we contact the manufacturers with the necessary discretion and ask for the corresponding pricing conditions and next available delivery positions.
3. „Analysis“ – the first inspection phase
If a model is shortlisted, we take a close look at the specifications. To this end, we check whether the aircraft and its corresponding equipment can be registered by the responsible civil aviation authority. Should there be any problems or delays, as a rule, we have a direct line to the relevant authorities (such as the relevant departments of the aviation authorities).
4. „Selection“ – the second inspection phase
In order to check the fundamental condition of the selected aircraft, we send out one of our technicians, or we enlist the help of one of our cooperation partners. The technicians first perform a visual inspection and also check the entries in the original logbooks (or check their completeness).
5. „Targeting“ – preparation of the offer
Once an initial, preliminary inspection has been successfully completed, we prepare a letter of intent (LOI) for our customer as preparation for the future transaction. We use time-tested templates, determine the respective trustee and finally, in consultation with you, make an official offer for the object of purchase. We also carry out the aircraft valuation.
Of course, we also assist our clients in the direct contract negotiations phase – taking into account the deadlines set for the drafting of the final contract. We thoroughly review the sales contract, and we assist you with the wording of the delivery conditions. All this is done in close cooperation with the client's lawyers so that the client is doubly secured in any case when drafting the contract.
7. „Contracting + Inspecting“
when the contract is signed, we find the appropriate service center for the pre-purchase inspections; for the models we look after, we naturally also offer our own services. In this pre-purchase phase, it is important that the aircraft is checked diligently by a professional, possibly also as part of a more extensive inspection, for its airworthiness and the functionality of its individual systems and components, as well as for the completeness of the technical documentation. As a rule, any technical defects that may have been discovered and that may have a direct impact on the airworthiness of the aircraft are rectified at the expense of the seller, while cosmetic improvements to the aircraft are carried out by the buyer. In addition, if desired, we can also subsequently adapt the interior to the buyer's wishes.
8. „Closing + Delivering“
we can also take care of the closing phase for the customer. This includes checking compliance with deadlines, coordinating document exchange and payment flow with the trustee and, of course, the processes within the transaction itself up to assisting with the trouble-free registration of the aircraft and bringing it into service for the new owner.
From the seller's point of view, aircraft transactions are no different from business transactions with other products: The main objective of the seller remains to obtain the best possible price for their goods. After we have signed an exclusive brokerage agreement with our client to market and sale the aircraft, we first check the overall condition of the jet and its documentation in order to set a target price together with the client that we believe can realistically be achieved on the market.
2. Preparation of a sales presentation and marketing plan
Together with the customer we create a sales presentation (so-called aircraft specification) that encapsulates the highlights and specific equipment of the aircraft. Subsequently, we develop – with the aim of achieving the highest possible market penetration – a dedicated marketing plan. The components of this plan usually include sending direct mailings to aircraft owners, operators, brokers, banks and other potential customers within our network. In addition, we publish the specifications on our website and various online platforms, as well as presenting them in trade magazines, our customer offices and at business aviation exhibitions – based loosely on the principle that the more potential buyers we can interest, the better the chances of achieving the price desired by the customer.
After the aircraft is offered for sale on the global market, it is important to professionally manage communication with prospective buyers, evaluate offers and check their seriousness to ensure that a later possible transaction can proceed smoothly.
4. Purchase agreement and inspection
We then negotiate the purchase agreement, set the specific delivery conditions and work with the seller to complete their part of the pre-purchase process. In this way, we ensure that the sale process is carried out with maximum professionalism and speed.
Finally - as with our buyer clients - we assist with the transaction up to the sale of the aircraft, meeting the deadlines and coordinating the exchange of documents and the associated payment flows up to the closing and transfer of ownership.
As everyone who knows the industry knows…
…the worldwide business jet trade is a matter of trust. The involvement of a reliable partner who, in addition to a high degree of integrity and commitment, also brings the necessary flexibility for highly unique and demanding business transactions is therefore an advantage that definitely pays off.
Just how well Aero-Dienst acts in the role of partner here is shown by the fact that many of our former aircraft buying and selling customers are now long-term business partners of the company.
There can hardly be a greater proof of the trust placed in us!