The importation of aircraft is booming as the effects of the Covid pandemic wind down, according to Timbro, a Brazil-based trading and import/export firm. With its ability to conduct foreign trade transactions with significant savings on taxes, Timbro’s aircraft imports into Brazil climbed by 171 percent in the first half of 2022 from the same period a year ago. The value of the imports was 135 percent higher year-over-year.
From 2019 to 2022, Timbro increased the number of aircraft imported by 250 percent. While Timbro doesn’t release absolute numbers, the company said it’s doing well. That's a dividend of the experience it has accumulated during the past 11 years in import and export of goods, as well as a measure of the current state of affairs.
Timbro does more than pass along tax advantages, according to Philipe Figueiredo, chief commercial officer and head of sales. “The great advantage in importing an aircraft with Timbro is the simplification of the entire operation. The aircraft arrives ready for the buyer.”
While Brazilian paperwork can be the stuff of nightmares, Timbro said it is responsible for all business aircraft import procedures. It supports the purchaser of a new or used airplane or helicopter, not only in structuring the operation, but finding the best credit solution, acquisition management, delivery from the exporter, transfer, and nationalization with the relevant agencies.
The growth of Timbro is due to more than just the improving economy, as the company has grown its market share. “In June 2021, we were already responsible for 25 percent of executive aircraft imports in Brazil,” Figueiredo said. “By tripling our team dedicated 100 percent to aviation last year, we expanded the volume of operations and today we are responsible for more than 30 percent of aircraft import processes in the country.”
Part of that expansion is through diversification, with turboprops, pistons, and helicopters making up one-third of the dollar volume through June. Imports for customers in the first half of the year included a Cessna Citation XLS+, Pilatus PC-24, HondaJet, and Cirrus Vision jet; Beechcraft King Air 260 and Daher TBM 850 turboprops; helicopters such as the Bell 407GXi; and Air Tractor agplane.
“Executive aviation is a solution to many obstacles and therefore attracts customers who are entering the market with specific needs,” he said. Figueiredo’s goal for the aviation unit is to close 2022 with billings 300 percent greater than 2021.
Timbro sees the effects not only of a hot domestic market—in 2021 demand for aircraft imports was 40 percent higher than 2020 and this continued through 2022—but also worldwide demand for new airplanes and helicopters being greater than the global supply, with widespread extended waits for delivery.
Therefore, there is an opportunity in preowned aircraft, as foreign owners who acquire a new aircraft usually sell the current one, causing the market to receive a relevant volume of used aircraft and helicopters. “A preowned aircraft in good condition, undergoing proper maintenance, and with nationalization done correctly is a good option for the Brazilian buyer who is purchasing their first airplane or helicopter, as it will have a more attractive cost than the new one and will be delivered in less time,” Figueiredo said.
The owner of a maintenance shop recently experienced the wrong way to try to import aircraft. Without expert assistance, the owner imported a half-dozen damaged aircraft, with the intent of restoring them to airworthiness condition. He declared the aircraft, paid the duties calculated by the customs department, and was starting work when the federal police appeared, accompanied by TV cameras, calling the importation illegal.
Operating in a unique foreign trade arena, Timbro can offer alternative solutions. In 2021, the company began bartering for the import of airplanes and helicopters, where the customer’s produce is used to pay for their chosen aircraft. In this case, that means bartering their agricultural production (grain, sugar, cotton, and coffee) or, more recently, ore (iron, manganese, pig iron, scrap, and non-ferrous metals). The aircraft seller receives cash.
This financial solution is unique in the Brazilian aircraft market, possible because Timbro also trades agricultural and metal commodities. Barter represented 3 percent of Timbro’s aviation activities in 2021, mostly with soy and corn, and the firm expects to end 2022 with barter growing to 10 percent.