The Case For Corporate Aviation – Is there one….?

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“Private Jets” grab the media attention and this in turn has caused some high-profile figures to curtail their use.  But is that reasonable?

We have been following the development of corporate aviation since the ’70s.

The insightful industry magazine Business & Commercial Aviation has long been a must-read and has done an excellent job of objectively charting the sector is serves.

But, in reality, are these toys or tools?  Who benefits from their use – egotists or stakeholders?

Can a “private jet” ever be justified?

Let’s take an overview.

Firstly, “Corporate Aviation” covers more than just jet aircraft.  

In fact, it covers everything from single-engine piston powered aircraft, helicopters, turbine-propellor (“turbo-props”) the corporate jet powered aircraft.

This last group includes corporate versions of airliners, produced by Airbus, Boeing, Embraer as examples, in fact any airborne vehicle that can be used in the corporate, rather than airline context.

“…yes but “elitist”, right?…”

Here are some facts.

According to Airbus, there are currently 22,880 commercial aircraft in service (freighters over 10 tonnes payload or passenger carrying aircraft having over 100 seats).  Some estimates put the total at around 23,600.

This compares with estimates of between 30-38,000 :”business” aircraft operated globally.  

The country with the highest number, the USA (and the leading global economy), has some insightful statistics, and produced by the NBAA

  • Business aviation helps support more than 1 million jobs
  • 98% of Fortune’s 50 most globally admired companies use business aviation because it:
    • minimises travel time
    • allows for flexible schedules
    • increases productivity
    • ensures employee safety and security
    • enables the delivery of sensitive equipment
    • allows for multiple stops in a single day
  • business aviation provides over 5,000 communities in the US with little or no airline services with essential aviation links.
  • Business aviation makes around 15,000 humanitarian flights a year.

And that’s just the US.  

Consider how these statistics roll out over Europe, Africa and Asia, indeed the rest of the globe?

Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart (originally a small-town store), regularly flew himself (and well in to late-age) in his Cessna 414 twin engined piston business aircraft between Walmart sites.  

In doing so, he was able to massively increase his own productivity and MBWA (management by walking about) in addition to his organisation’s.  

His business flying started years earlier with a single engine piston Ercoupe that he bought for $1,850.

So, despite the screaming headlines, it appears that business aviation does add value to both businesses and the communities they serve, rather than being the confine of UHNW individuals. 

…”yes, but what about the environment, what about carbon emissions?

According to the NBAA “Globally, business aviation operations make up only 0.04% of man made carbon emissions. The industry is committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onward”.

This compares with with the IT(C) sector that accounts for 1.8-2.9% of global emissions, and that figure maybe as high as 3.9%, when taking total life cycle costs in to consideration.

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Barry Eustance CMgr MCMI

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