“Things are better than they appear,” Sentient Flight Group vice president of aircraft management Gil Wolin said today at the 13th annual Corporate Aircraft Transactions Conference in New York City. Despite the souring U.S. economy, the business aviation industry is expected to be sustained by a growing number of international millionaires, declining airline service and fractional aircraft owners.
With the country in mourning for the tremendous loss of life from the terrorist attacks, the financial loss seemed to pale by comparison. But as Americans began to recover from the initial shock, the economic concerns loomed darker, and the insurance industry was among the first to feel the fiscal effects. It was also one of the first to put measures into effect to minimize losses and recover from the economic blow.
Nearly 20 years ago, The New York Times ran a headline that read “Business May Cut Back, but Not on Its Private Jets.” The header on the next page read, “Corporate Jets Gain in Popularity.” I clipped the articles and when I rediscovered them recently, it struck me how history tends to repeat itself, and it seems this same headline applies today.
Travelers Aviation, part of The Travelers insurance company, made its debut at the 2007 AIA convention at Indian Wells, Calif. This year in Nashville, Gordon Murray, its president, told AIN that in the past year Travelers has booked premiums in the millions of dollars and continues to look for opportunities. “The marketplace out there is competitive.
Despite the economic uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad, the mood was decidedly upbeat at the Aviation Insurance Association (AIA) convention April 26 to 29 at
the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville. In fact, due in part to the downturn in financial circles, aviation insurance–a truly worldwide industry–has been experiencing a mini-boom that is benefiting the insured, large and small.
The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has acquired the Aviation Training Institute (ATI) from Denver-based Aviation Resource Group International. ATI was formed to deliver line service training to FBOs and will dovetail with NATA’s “Safety First” certification program for line service personnel.
In the months since September 11, the insurance industry has taken a beating. Some estimates–and they are still just estimates–put the total losses in excess of $100 billion.
Within days of the terrorist attacks, it was apparent that efforts by insurers to cope with the disaster would translate to higher costs and changes in coverage limits. So far, this is being proved out.
You roll up to an FBO in a multi-million-dollar business jet, and they roll out the red carpet. Your passengers disembark and you stroll into the office. There, the smiling customer service representative hands you a document. “It’s just our standard hold-harmless agreement,” she says. “We need your signature.”
The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) has finished a two-year project to develop International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), but release of the document is pending IBAC’s obtaining liability insurance. Development of the standards started in March 2000 and culminated shortly before the NBAA Convention last month, when the IS-BAO board signed off on the document.
Someone I used to know–a father and general aviation pilot–questioned why he needed life insurance, because, quote, “I won’t be around to enjoy it.” He could well afford it, but apparently his survivors’ welfare didn’t warrant the few bucks a month a policy would cost.