State of the Market - King Airs
The variables effecting value and resale desirability are incredible. The King Air line has more available modifications and options than any other business class aircraft. Each option and modification effects the value and desirability of that individual aircraft. Add to that over 50 years of continuous production and the challenge of understanding the King Air market as a whole becomes a daunting one!
The King Air market overall is very strong. We are seeing very low inventory levels and a brisk sales volume that has been consistent for the last two years. Looking at Q4 2018, we see 186 King Air transactions compared to 181 during Q4 of 2017.
The King Air 90 market is fairly segmented with older aircraft languishing on the market and newer or well-equipped aircraft selling very quickly. The sweet spot is currently the C90B with Blackhawk engines and an upgraded panel. If priced right, those aircraft sell as soon as they hit the market and in many cases before they hit the market.
The King Air 200 market has a widening gap between straight 200s and B200s as the ’70s vintage aircraft continue to be perceived by most buyers as old. Well-equipped 200s and those that are priced below market are selling, but anything that has known negatives tends to sit on the market. The B200 market is strong, and can be viewed through definite levels. The early B200s that are nice and priced in the very low $1M’s sell very quickly. The post 1985 (hydraulic gear) airplanes are selling well. The late ’90s airplanes, which are typically 1997–1999, are in high demand and tend to fall in the price point with the most active buyers, which is around $1.5M, again assuming they are nice and priced correctly. The market for post-2000 B200s is very active as well, with pristine aircraft selling very quickly. The post-2004 B200 (Proline 21) and the B200GT markets are very tight, and sales / demand seem somewhat volatile. The realities of upgrading the Collins avionics seem to put downward pressure on this market. The cost of the Collins Modernization Package averages around $200,000.00, and that is enough to give any King Air buyer pause.
The King Air 200 / B200 / B200GT / 250 market is clearly defined between nice airplanes with engine time remaining and airplanes that need engines, avionics or cosmetics. The nice airplanes sell very quickly and the weak airplanes hang around on the market, litter up the advertising sites, and create the impression that aircraft aren’t selling. I tell all of our clients to ignore most of what is on Controller because those airplanes are either already sold or not likely to sell. Many of these aircraft have been advertised for more than a year! An interesting footnote specific to the King Air B200 market is that we continue to see a wide variance in actual sales prices, with some aircraft selling above market and some selling well below. I believe this is attributed to the sheer number of aircraft and confusion about values.
The King Air 300 market has changed drastically in the last 18 months. In 2017, there were many great King Air 300s to choose from. Today, there are very few available!
The King Air 350 / 350i market has changed quite a bit as well. In 2017, two entities, the Turkish Government and US Government Contractor Leidos, each purchased 7 aircraft in a short period of time, most of them 2003 and newer. The reality of 14 airplanes being pulled out of the market combined with an increase in demand for run-out airplanes to be converted with Blackhawk -67As caused the King Air 350 market in 2018 to get tighter than I have ever seen it! It’s a little better now, but a nice, low-time, post-serial-number 500 (Keith Freon) King Air 350 is very hard to come by! At the time of this writing there were only six US-based King Air 350i’s for sale. That market remains very tight. The oldest listing is just 120 days.
The most interesting component of the King Air market may be the sales prices. While some markets have firmed up, we simply have not seen a huge increase in actual sales prices. One can argue that maintaining the same value is actually a price increase because each year the aircraft gets older and should be worth less because of its age.
All of the above is subject to deeper research, the reality is that the King Air market is wildly complex. The variables affecting value and resale desirability are incredible. The King Air line has more available modifications and options than any other business-class aircraft. Each option and modification affects the value and desirability of that individual aircraft. Add to that over 50 years of continuous production, and the challenge of understanding the King Air market as a whole becomes a daunting one!
If you are in the market to buy a King Air and are concerned about values, I would say you have a green light. I don’t see anything changing dramatically anytime soon. My second bit of advice is to hire an acquisition professional to find an airplane for you. As I mentioned above, many of the aircraft that are sold are never advertised.
One thing is for certain, aircraft markets and values rise and fall, but no other aircraft weathers the storms of a world economy better than the same vintage King Air!
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