Africa’s rising wealth drives private jet sales

Not surprisingly, figures like these make the continent a market of particular interest.

Jenny van Wyk, Passenger Sales Manager for Africa at international aircraft charter specialists Chapman Freeborn, told CNBC Africa that the growth in mining on the continent was driving demand for charter aircraft. She added that there was “growing frustrating” with the kind of services offered by commercial airlines. “The [commercial flight] services are generally poor … making wealthy [Africans] opt to acquire their own jets to save the time that would otherwise have been lost waiting for flights,” she said.

AfBAA Chairman Tarek Ragheb, agreed, telling African Business Magazine that the lack of suitable commercial transport connections within Africa was a key motivator for private jet acquisition.

“For the growth of the continent there must be an ultra-efficient means of travel – and that is where business aviation could come in,” he said. “Flying out of Africa is not difficult. You can go from Lagos to London; you can go from Kinshasa to Belgium; that’s not a problem. The challenge is intra-Africa flights … this is where the focus is going to be.”

According to African Business Magazine, Nigeria is the fastest-growing private jet market in the world after China. There were just 20 such aircraft in the country in 2007, but the fleet has now grown to about 170, with an estimated expenditure of US$6,5-billion over the past six years.

Given this insight, it is not surprising that the publication Corporate Jet Investor reported that Gulfstream Aerospace was beefing up its representation on the continent by appointing Inkwazi Jet Centre as its sales representative. Inkwazi will cover the key markets of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Inkwazi, a newly formed company, will collaborate on new jet sales with Gulfstream’s Pete Buresh, who is Regional Vice President for Africa.

But it is not just the new jet market which is capitalising on the continent’s growing uptake of private aircraft. More wealthy individuals can afford private jets through leasing second-hand than via direct purchase, reported African Business Magazine. “Private jets can cost US$60-million, but it is also possible to [get] an old second-hand aircraft for US$500 000.” This gives the market legs beyond out-of-the-box sales.

As Van Wyk told CNBC Africa: “The growing class of super-rich [African] business moguls who cannot compromise on their comfort and time now rush to acquire their own aircraft … choosing the most convenient airport and travelling at times that suit their schedule. It’s all about supply and demand.”