Dear friends and colleagues:
For the first time ever, supply shortages are affecting virtually every sector of the $150 billion global business aviation industry. Whether you’re talking about new or preowned aircraft, charter, maintenance, or pilots, there simply have not been enough products, services, or people to meet the demand. Hence, prices have been rising. It’s Economics 101.
This imbalance won’t last forever, and in fact, we’re starting to see some easing of shortages in the fourth quarter. That said, I do believe we’re witnessing a historic and permanent increase in demand for what our industry offers. Because of the pandemic, many travelers—primarily charter customers but also first-time aircraft buyers—have recently experienced private lift for the first time and are here to stay. They are having a significant positive impact on the industry.
And the pandemic isn’t the only reason why more people are flying privately. Airline travel is just not what it used to be and likely won’t improve substantially anytime soon. The airport experience is a mess and airline schedules are unreliable. So, if you can afford to fly privately, why wouldn’t you?
During my own flying over the last few years, meanwhile, I’ve noticed a change in the sorts of people getting into and out of business jets. It’s no longer typically a few businesspeople. Instead, I’m increasingly seeing larger groups—often consisting of families or friends—and a younger demographic as well.
50 Years of Change
Of course, these are just among the latest of the countless changes I’ve witnessed in this business since the late Jim Holahan and I founded AIN 50 years ago at the 1972 NBAA Convention in Cincinnati. We soon became the leader in on-site publishing at airshows and conventions, and we have since leveraged that success to become the No. 1 source of business aviation news and information worldwide.
At our corporate headquarters in northern New Jersey, we have bound copies of every issue we’ve published since 1972, and they tell the story of an industry that has been constantly changing, experimenting, and reinventing itself. Our archives are a treasure trove, chronicling exciting programs, creative entrepreneurs, rising corporations, lots of successes, and more than a few failures. There are letters from Bill Lear, and just the other day I was looking at an article about Fred Smith’s first efforts to carry packages on business jets—the start of what we all know now as FedEx.
AIN’s Next 50 Years
While it’s fascinating to explore this history, we spend most of our time at AIN focused on to the next five, 10, 25, and, yes, 50 years. Particularly in the past two years, in fact, we’ve been taking steps to assure that our company will remain a growing and trusted source in this industry for a long time to come.
We’ve decided to keep the ownership of AIN in the Leach family and have engaged consultants who specialize in family-owned businesses. They’re helping us plan for a new era that is being led by Dave Leach and Jennifer Leach English. We are also bolstering our non-family management and investing significantly in our core publications, including AIN, AIN Alerts, our convention and show dailies, Business Jet Traveler, and FutureFlight. In addition, we’re introducing industry seminars such as our Corporate Aviation Leadership Summit.
It has been such a pleasure to oversee these developments, while also celebrating our 50-year anniversary and the industry’s unprecedented resurgence. Now I look forward to seeing how 2023 unfolds. Business aviation may hit occasional turbulence, but my sense is that the year ahead will feature lots of clear skies and smooth flying.
CEO & Co-founder