We Don't Need No Stinkin' Airlines

The well-known, oft-cited, and often-grumbled-about troubles of the airline industry appear to be opening up opportunities for airplane makers ... but not the usual suspects.

Unlike Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) and Airbus -- the world's two largest makers of big-airframe jets used for regional and international travel en masse -- companies like Embraer (NYSE: ERJ  ) , Bombardier, and General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  ) are riding an upswell of distaste for airline travel; riding it to new sales and new profits in the business-jet market. Last week, two of the biggest business-jet makers -- Bombardier and General D -- reported blockbuster sales:

  • On Friday, the General reported that NetJets -- a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) -- inked a contract to buy a total of 40 Gulfstream G450s and Gulfstream G550s large-cabin, long-range business jets. NetJets will take possession of four of each flavor of Gulfstream every year from 2012 through 2016, paying $1.9 billion in all.
  • Simultaneously, Gulfstream rival Bombardier came out with its own announcement, nearly as big. According to Bombardier, a customer who'd prefer not to be named has ordered 25 midsize Learjet 60XR business jets (smaller than either of the Gulfstreams that NetJets is buying), and optioned another 85. If all the options are exercised, we're talking $1.5 billion in revenue for Bombardier.

So what?
If Bombardier's order maxes out, it will equate to about 8% of that company's annual revenue (although, of course, the planes will not all be delivered in a single year). The significance for General Dynamics is both smaller and larger. Because it's a bigger company, $1.9 billion equates to just 7% of the General's annual sales. Even so, it's a significant victory for the General in two ways.

First, within the company's aerospace business in particular, $1.9 billion equates to 40% of annual revenue. Second, the General just took a $400 million annual march on its rival, increasing its share of the world business-jet market.

And the more capacity, flights, and pilots Northwest (NYSE: NWA  ) , United (Nasdaq: UAUA  ) , and their kin cut, the more valuable shares in the business-jet market will become.

Related Foolishness:

Does its position in the business-jet market make General Dynamics a buy? Click on over to Motley Fool CAPS and cast your vote.

Embraer and Berkshire Hathaway are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Berkshire Hathaway is also an Inside Value pick. Try these market-beating publications free for 30 days. You'll have full access to the teams' market-beating stock recommendations and the reasoning behind their choices.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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