The Economic Benefits of Business Aviation, Part I
Lately, when having to fly commercially, I often find myself observing other business travelers. Watching intently through the lens of corporate America. You can tell which ones fly often. Headsets, laptops with the airline app, bulging carry-ons. All signs that say, “I have resigned myself to weather the coming trip.” While I assume they believe they are being as efficient as possible, are they really?
If you could reimagine your business to increase productivity, would you? What if it meant stronger client relationships? Or, reducing stress and spending more time doing the things you enjoy? What if it meant all of the above? Hardly realistic? Yes, it is. So, let’s take a not-so-bold leap into the world of business aviation.
Business aviation thrives on many levels and for many reasons. And no, it is not the private playground of the ultra-rich. Consider that the S&P 500 Companies that utilize business aviation outperform their competitors by 70 percent. If you or your company personnel make just a couple of trips per week on commercial airlines, it’s time to rethink your business model. Industry norms say that 150 hours per year of flight time – 2.88 hours per week – make this an easy choice. But let’s dig beneath the bottom line.
Some of the benefits are obvious: no TSA lines; greater flexibility; increased time in front of clients; and an in-flight work environment that is secure and is actually productive. What are some of the tangible and intangible elements of a business aviation flight?
You will out-flex your competition
Isn’t competitive edge in business a big deal? Of course. No airport lines, fewer delays, the ability to land closer to your customers. Consider this scenario: Two travelers leave Phoenix for Chicago, same day, same time. Your commercial passenger is delayed by a storm for several hours, then makes a cramped, four-hour flight into O’Hare, barely making the meeting. They are tired. Hardly at their best. The business aviation traveler arrives minutes before departure, leaves on schedule, and lands in Omaha for a quick, unannounced (yet muchly appreciated) visit to another client before moving on to Chicago. This associate flies in a spacious cabin, with a fresh menu of their choice. They have the ability to freshen up and rest, leading to more productive meetings. Multiply that situation throughout a year. The math quickly adds up.
You will out-produce your competition
With commercial air, there is little to no control over your schedule. A typical business person flying commercial may make trips to two cities in a typical week. A private aircraft owner can make 11 trips or more. Getting in front of customers more often is a huge competitive boost – particularly when you have the ability to do so quickly and conveniently. Visibility beats the conference call. Always. Being in front of your clients early and often shows you are truly interested in their business and builds trust. You can make quick trips as needed (multiple trips per day), allowing for new opportunities and an expanded client base.
And, consider this: how productive can you truly be on a commercial flight with a laptop on your tray table inches from your chest? More so, that is not a safe environment should you be working on classified corporate documents.
You will out-manage your competition
Secure work areas, comfortable seating, fresh, healthy meals are just some of the benefits of flying in the business aviation realm. No lines at airport security, no TSA pat-downs, no delays due to issues outside of your control. Your staff and associates can make ground transportation plans on descent, instead of waiting until they reach the gate.
This all leads to higher morale, productivity, loyalty and confidence. These are intangibles, that will place you well above the competition with recruiting and lower rates of employee attrition.
Business and individuals benefit every day across the globe by flying private. Once someone experiences just how advantageous it is, they have a very hard time turning back to the burdens commercial air places on them. Most organizations quickly find that the increase in productivity, opportunity, stronger relationships and well-rested employees far offsets the costs. Business aviation supports more than one million jobs in this country.
Your budget team may find it difficult to rationalize jet ownership. But insightful, nimble executives doing the work in the field soon realize the numerous benefits. Benefits that far outweigh the investment. Is it your time to come on board?
 Findings from a 2017 study conducted by NEXA Advisors for the National Business Aviation Association.