Business aviation sector still recovering

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The business aviation sector isn’t improving with the rest of the economy, says a new report from J.P. Morgan Chase that focuses on new airplane sales for business customers.

Signals are mixed in the sector – high end airplane sales are up, while sales of less expensive airplanes are down.

Sales are healthiest for heavy jets, according to analyst Joseph Nadol in Business jet Monthly, China is a leading driver, and is planning on buying 50 Gulfstreams, he said.

Demand for smaller and mid-size aircraft remains low, but hope remains for the second half of 2011, Nadol said.

Low demand for new aircraft could be good news for Colorado Springs fixed based operators – businesses that operate fueling, maintenance and storage facilities for privately owned aircraft.

“Business is up, about 1 percent over last year,” reports Bill Palmer of Cutter Aviation in Colorado Springs. “We are seeing both more transient customers and more local ones as well.”

Cutter is like a truck stop for airplanes, Palmer said, and relies on customers flying through the airport, stopping to refuel or for maintenance, as well as local customers.

“We’re seeing more of both,” he reports.

But airplane manufacturers like Cessna aren’t seeing more sales. Cessna says demand is gradually improving, but still lower than expected in the second quarter.