I've just joined the Business Aviation industry, and I must admit that had many misconceptions of my own before understanding the scale of this sector.
I've still got a lot to learn, but I wanted to address some of the most common misconceptions I've discovered so far.
Misconception 1: The Business Aviation industry only exists to serve the rich and famous
There’s no denying that Business Aviation does serve a lot of private aircraft used by high-profile clients for business and leisure purposes. I've discovered some particularly extravagant figures who like to show off their wealth by purchasing huge aircraft and invest in luxurious interior design.
This “flying palace” owned by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud is a fantastic example. His Boeing includes a pool, a hammam, a parking garage and an elevator!
These features are very impressive. For the interior designers and completion teams who work on such a project, well, they must enjoy the challenge to create something so unconventional.
Clients like this offer jobs and a valuable source of income for the industry, however, Business Aviation doesn't just exist to provide services for this purpose.
Photo credit: forbes.com / Inside Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's private plane
In fact, most of the time Business Aviation is an extension of corporate communications. Not only high-level government officials, political figures and business leaders who travel for meetings and events, but also specialists, engineers and sales teams who need the ability to visit four countries in two days instead of losing reaction time and wasting a whole week by flying commercially.
The advantages for all clientele to use Business Aviation services vs. Commercial Aviation services include:
Time-saving - By avoiding long queues for security checks the passengers can be up in the air within minutes of arriving at the terminal. Teams can carry large equipment without having to acquire special permissions, and the plane can also land at smaller airports. Passengers are closer to their end destination and can depart within minutes of landing on the tarmac.
Security and privacy - If the passenger is a high profile figure, they don’t necessarily want their presence known. Business Aviation offers private terminals away from the main terminals and sometimes direct ramp access so a passenger can be whisked away in ground transport without being seen. Alternatively, if the passenger does want to have a private audience with media or another business person, they can do so in a secure and safe environment in the private FBO terminal.
Flexibility - If the passenger needs to change their travel plans they can do so last minute without losing their seat on the plane. Whether you need to depart from a different location, or on a different day, you have much more control over your schedule, not the airline.
Efficiency in the air - If a passenger needs to discuss business they can travel with whoever they need and discuss matters on a private flight without the risk of other passengers overhearing sensitive information. Additionally, business aviation flights have high-speed wi-fi and allow you to conduct conference calls in the air with little to no interference.
Business Aviation supports medical flights
Another branch of Business Aviation that not many people know about is supporting emergency services.
Private terminals in remote locations with direct ramp access give fast and efficient access to emergency services for medical flights.
In 2015 over 1200 medical flights were operated every month in the EU alone.
Photo credit: Swiss Assist on ASB tarmac
The term medical flight could include the transportation of rare blood to save someone's life; it could be delivering organs for transplants or delivering a patient to a specialist facility.
Business Aviation gives back to local communities
Business Aviation participates in a variety of social responsibility projects, and it's been amazing to hear about the support that the Business Aviation industry has been able to offer to communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Irma this year.
Working with the military and volunteers, there have been many donations of aircraft and flight crews to transport specialists and supplies to the disaster areas.
Photo credit: Banyan Air Service
Banyan Air Service, the FBO located at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, became a hub for relief efforts after hurricanes struck Florida and the Caribbean.
Misconception 2: Private jet travel is just too expensive
Of course, owning and maintaining an aircraft is expensive, but travelling in business aviation with an operator can be much more affordable than you might think.
California-based company, Surf Air has recently expanded to Europe and offers unlimited private jet flight service for a fixed subscription package that ranges from £1000 - £3200 a month.
That's still an investment, but if you consider that an average business class ticket on a commercial airline from London to Zurich will cost about £400 one way. If a businessman travels at least four times in a month with the Surf Air subscription, he's made up the difference and reaps the incomparable benefits of flying privately.
Many companies benefit from these services when they need to send more than one member of the team on a trip. Instead of sending those three experts on a business class flight that would take two days of travel, they can charter a jet for a day and save time by working in their own executive flying suite. They avoid delays and lengthy security checks, and they land closer to their final destination reducing further travel time on arrival.
Photo credit: www.cat-aviation.com
Misconception 3: I don’t have to travel for business, so I’ll never be able to afford a private jet travel
Again, you’d be surprised. There are much more affordable options for an average traveller like you and me if you’re willing to put in the research to find the good deals.
Charter flight companies like privatefly, stratajet, lunajets and many more offer flights known as ‘empty leg’ flights that knock up to 75% discount off the original price of a private jet flight.
Sometimes these deals can turn out cheaper than low-cost commercial flights. A small jet from Geneva to London could cost as little as £310 per person for example.
Find out what an empty leg flight means in my previous blog "5 things about Business Aviation that you probably didn’t know"
Misconception 4: The business aviation industry is full of government crooks and tax dodgers.
As you can see in my examples above Business Aviation offers many opportunities for communities and business professionals.
There are always going to be people in this world who can, and will, find loopholes to take advantage of rules and regulations for their personal gain.
The media often put the negativity, and the blame on Business Aviation whereas the tax, legal and government issues should be recognised as much more extensive than owning private jets.
I’ll borrow the final paragraph from this article by Eric Adams to highlight the final misconception here:
“Like personal cars, private jets have a place and they have a benefit, one that’s thoroughly hamstrung by negative public opinion. Sure, there’s a lot to be unhappy about in the business environment these days, from salary insanity to corporate malfeasance to the real no-good tax breaks. But lumping business jets in with all that nastiness doesn’t make sense. Just because an accepted standard is miserable and inefficient doesn’t mean a smarter, faster alternative has to be deplorable.”
What do you think about the misconceptions? Do you disagree? Feel free to comment below with your own misconceptions to add to the list.