There’s been plenty of bad news in private aviation in recent months. New business jet deliveries are down and production has scaled back nearly 30%. There is high inventory and few buyers in the pre-owned market. Private travel is way down – 25 to 45% over last year.
Then of course there’s all the negative publicity about the excesses of private air travel. Darn those GM guys for choosing the wrong mode of travel to Capitol Hill. Maybe they should have driven their cars.
The business climate is difficult these days and the economy has taken its toll on business aviation. But all the doom and gloom misses the point. Let’s flip it!
Sure, this may not be the best time to take on the expense of buying a business jet. Likewise it might be smart to unload a plane that’s sucking corporate dollars. Those situations address the financial concerns that come with whole aircraft ownership. They certainly don’t lessen the advantages of private aviation – things like improved productivity and time savings. There are options that make good economic sense.
Looking at the big picture, it seems the recession actually bodes well for fractional ownership, jet card programs, even charter. As the economy improves, people will utilize business aviation again. Of course, companies will be watching dollars closely and question owning vs. participating in a program. Why pay millions for a jet when a fractional share is far less? Why take on the expense of managing an aircraft when a fractional provider will manage it for you? The point is there are more private travel options than ever.
We’re seeing new programs developing that suggest an exciting evolution. Our client, Flight Options, is introducing a fractional ownership program built around the new Embraer Phenom 300. This plane features performance benefits of a super-light jet while flying at a cost-per-mile similar to a twin-engine turboprop. In fact, the Phenom outperforms every other jet in its category in range, fuel efficiency, comfort and maintenance cost all while offering the lowest hourly rate – almost 30% lower than competitive aircraft.
Other fractional ownership companies are reshaping their programs in different ways. Some program options include leasing, residual-value guarantees, shared-ride charter memberships and fixed per-seat costs for specific routes.
All of these developments are positive signs. We should salute the companies who have creatively responded to challenging times with innovative programs that set the stage for the future of business aviation.