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Market Business Aviation

by David Wyndham 1. February 2009 00:00
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The past few months have not been kind to business aviation. The recession has hit everyone and general aviation is no exception. Sales fell off the cliff last fall taking residual values with it. And the non-aviation press is using business aviation as the poster-child for corporate greed and largess. First up for the hit were the Big-Three automakers. Next came any TARP funded folks. Several long time flight departments have closed and many more are shedding some of their aircraft. Just this past week Citi and Starbucks, under public and probably shareholder pressure, turned away their new business jets (no telling how many millions of dollars each will lose).

The NBAA is fighting the good fight, but they need our help. Somehow, the "public" has this impression of business aviation being made up of large business jets being used solely for entertainment. Yes, there is personal and entertainment use of business aircraft (Super Bowl anyone?). Yes, there are times when the aircraft is a corporate perk. But those are the small minority of the uses of these aircraft. Let's bust some myths!

Myth #1. Business aircraft are only for the "fat cats." The vast majority of business use aircraft are used to save time by senior executives, and for teams of workers, too. Productivity is important across the board, especially in lean economic times. But, "King Air Lands at Small Airport and Offloads Road Engineers" is not much of a headline. Those global jets are used to fly all over the globe. They can turn a weeklong trip via the airlines into a two-night trip.

Myth #2. Business aircraft means big jets flown by one or two people. The majority of the NBAA membership is made up of small flight departments. Many of those operate small jets, turboprops and pistons. They operate under tight budgets, face layoffs, and work very hard at getting people where the need to be when they need to be there. We need to show them "Joe the Flying Plumber."

Myth 3#. Getting rid of business aircraft is going to save a lot of money. I seriously doubt that. So the big company dumps the corporate jet. The next thing they do is to charter (good for the charter companies for sure). The need is still there. Even if folks start taking the (air)bus, how productive will they be? Whether it is an auto executive trying to mange plants, vendors and customers all over the world, or a small company with jobs scattered all over the state, aircraft make sense. Companies who lose the flexibility and productivity a business aircraft affords now must spend more time on the road and will have even less time to be productive and earn money.

What can we do? Ed Bolen at NBAA writes a great letter, but things would be better if those letters came from users. Especially the small companies with one aircraft. Invite the press to visit your airport. Show them how many jobs there are at the local airport. Remind them that the local airport is an attractive selling point to attract a new business to the area. Remind them that the Mooney on the ramp is a business aircraft, too.

Aviation means jobs, means productivity, and the vast majority of business aircraft are used for legitimate, necessary business purposes. For many, the aircraft is an essential business tool. Being proactive and framing the issue on our terms will have a lot more success than always being on the defensive.

"We need policymakers to advance proposals that allow companies in business aviation to survive and keep people working.

You can send Congress this reminder with a new e-mail message NBAA has prepared for use through the Association's online Contact Congress resource. Contact Congress - which has helped our industry make its collective voice heard on user fees, onerous TARP proposals, and other issues - is quick and easy to use.

I invite you to send your message to Congress today by accessing Contact Congress at www.nbaa.org/advocacy/contact." -Ed Bolen, President and CEO National Business Aviation Association

*Please see Ed Bolen's letter to the NBAA Membership. Please go to www.nbaa.org/advocacy/contact. click on TELL CONGRESS OF THE VALUE OF BUSINESS AVIATION and complete the short form so that the appropriate congressman receives your letter which is available for viewing before you submit it. Thank you.  

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David Wyndham


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