After the low-cost airline, the poor man's private jet

Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:44am EST
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By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Dubai Airshow produced a harvest of deals for the world's biggest and flashiest jets this week, but for those unable to afford a $400-million A380 superjumbo there is always an alternative - the poor man's private jet.

Making its debut on the tarmac at the Middle East's largest aerospace event was what its supplier calls the world's first "re-manufactured" business jet, designed for VIPs on a budget.

Ohio-based Nextant Aerospace takes small business jets that may be 10-20 years old and near retirement, rips them apart and re-sells them with new avionics, engines and interiors.

"We're solving the problem of the industry," Nextant's president Sean McGeough said in front of a rebuilt Beechjet 400, gutted and offered for sale "as new" at some $5 million.

That's a fraction of the $25 million that super-rich customers can spend simply on the interior of some of the luxury converted jetliners displayed this week.

"There's about a year-and-a-half inventory backlog (of older jets) on the market. Until that inventory starts selling off, new aircraft sale will not rebound," McGeough told Reuters in an interview.

Five years on from a credit crunch that badly hurt the industry, manufacturers of small business jets are only now speaking of shoots of recovery, lagging well behind a rebound in the global equity and U.S. housing markets.

Plentiful second-hand jets are crimping demand for new light- and medium-sized aircraft, in stark contrast to top-end products on display in Dubai, according to experts.   Continued...