Business Aviation Still Facing Acceptance Issues

 - May 22, 2013, 3:20 PM
Representatives of business aviation organizations from around the world gathered for a forum at the EBACE show today. (Photo: David McIntosh)

“People do not understand what we do,” stated Marc Bailey from the British Business and General Aviation Association, speaking at yesterday’s Business Aviation Around the World conference, which brought together speakers from associations in numerous regions and nations. It was a message that was reiterated by other speakers: “The biggest challenge we face is the public acceptance of business aviation,” remarked NBAA COO Steve Brown. “It is not seen as a business tool, it’s seen as being excessive or unjustified.”

Such misconceptions have hindered the development of business aviation, particularly when they influence the decisions of governments. Punitive taxes continue to be applied to the sector, despite the best efforts of business aviation associations to present a reasoned case. Fabio Gamba from EBAA put it bluntly: “Are we helped by policy-makers? The straight answer is no! We’re being seen as a luxury, not a business tool. It is our mission to try to convince them that business aviation is a vital part of growth.”

Bailey also warned of the need to oppose punitive measures in one country before they spread to another. For instance, the UK is contemplating introducing new fees for providing customs and immigration services for business aviation. “Once one country does this,” he asserted, “others will follow. It is contagion.”

Speakers also outlined the disparate rates of growth in their regions. North America and Europe, for instance, have seen a dramatic slow-down since 2008, but suggest that the trend has turned a corner. Gamba noted that forecasts suggest that business aviation will not recover to the levels of the 2007-08 peak until 2017. “That’s ten years lost,” he added, although he admitted that the dramatic growth of the early 2000s had been unsustainable.

On a brighter note, speakers from Asia, India and Brazil reported considerable growth, but that itself has brought its own problems in the provision of infrastructure. David Best from the Asian Business Aircraft Association reported 15- to 20-percent growth, most of which was large aircraft used on long sectors. By 2020-22 Asian business traffic is forecast to have reached the level of where Europe is now. Such growth needs to be matched with an increase in maintenance and training facilities, as well as by education of authorities for the need for efficient business handling at a greater number of destinations. Rui Aquino, from Brazilian business aviation association ABAG, also reported growth, and again reiterated the need for improved facilities. The country, he noted, faces a particular challenge next year to meet the increased requirements for executive transport during the FIFA World Cup.

Comments

Karl S.'s picture

You're not likely to fix a problem until you've properly identified it: many of us - even long-time pilots and aircraft operators - are offended by the self-serving behavior seen among so many occupants of corporate "C-suites", whether they're in their offices or their Gulfstreams. Fix the public's perception of that overall behavior and the problem of hostility toward business aviation will fix itself. The fact that aircraft are valuable business tools makes it all the more important to operate them responsibly and transparently.

Gibson's picture

Biz jets are gorgeous, but over rated. I flew them for 10 years, all trips could have been made commercially, quicker, and more comfortably and safer than in all biz jets other than globals and gulfstreams. Airport ramps cannot park them, pollution is unacceptable, and the rich have got to start to give back to society.
Business should get real and accept if you cannot afford government imposed costs, then perhaps you're not quite rich enough to warrant one!

Pier's picture

You say "all trips could have been made commercially, quicker, and more comfortably and safer than in all biz jets..." - what were you flying, an early Citation??? Assuming you could hop out of your car, go directly to the plane, and take off immediately, commercial flights would be as fast, or faster, than private aviation, IF you were going directly between two locations served by the airlines. If the departure location or destination are NOT served by the airlines, there's no way you're going to beat the bizjet.

I work for a very profitable company which was made that way by a very capable senior management. The last thing I want them to do is waste time sitting in a concourse waiting for their flight to take off, and then waste more time in the plane traveling to whatever their destination is. Our jets are equipped with the infrastructure that allows the travelers to log on to their computers and continue working and teleconferencing as they fly. That's not a luxury -- that's effective use of senior management's time.

Karl S.'s picture

Could there be an inverse relationship between cost and utility of business aircraft? Turboprops and Slotations are better for getting to outlying customers, suppliers and company facilities, and they're vastly less expensive than their .9 Mach cousins. How awkward for the owners and manufacturers of certain models. :(

Snorre's picture

I fully agree with the position that the utility of Business Aviation is overrated and is largely a status symbol and a vehicle for a comfortable lifestyle financed largely by the IRS. However, more than forty years in aviation has also taught me that Business Aviation is very destructive to those who want to enter aviation as a profession or have aviation as a hobby. The very nature of Business Aviation with limited need to consider costs creates a cost environment in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate for those who have to pay expenses from a weekly paycheck. But then again why cares about the long term survival of General Aviation as long as the present creates a comfortable lifestyle?

Lowell K's picture

There is no doubt that the feds have caused a lot of bad feeling toward GA. But I wonder if the airlines are not also culpable. They have made air travel so distasteful and dreaded [but cheap] that the vacationing air traveler looks at a business plane with pure envy.

Loren's picture

To represent this segment of the market as a cost effective business tool is a selfish misrepresentation. I've talked to several bizjet pilots and most of the time, there are only one or two passengers on the $20,000 flights.

The passengers/owners say to the "little people" - "let them eat cake" We're too important to use public transportation.

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