Signature Flight Support president Michael Scheeringa didn’t use a corporate jet when he flew to Wichita on Tuesday to speak at the Wichita Aero Club luncheon.
Scheeringa, the keynote speaker at the luncheon held at the Wichita Airport Hilton, flies commercial airlines when he travels alone and uses business aircraft when flying with a group of customers.
He wants to be careful not to perpetuate a faulty stereotype of the way business aircraft is used.
Corporate aircraft are used for business purposes 75 percent of the time, although the industry received a negative backlash after the CEOs of three Detroit automakers flew business jets to Washington to ask for bail-out money, he said.
The business jet industry has experienced four major downturns in the past 30 years, and it’s bounced back from every one, Scheeringa said.
“It’s a very resilient industry,” Scheeringa said. The good news is that the market has begun to recover, although recovery has been muted.
Fortune 200 companies are flying as much today as they did in 2008, he said.
It’s the small-business owners who are not yet using business aviation as much as they had, he said.
The political climate has caused uncertainty about the tax structure for owners of smaller businesses, he said. That leads to uncertainty about their future income and generates a lack of confidence.
It’s that lack of confidence that affects the business aviation industry in Wichita and elsewhere, he said.
Signature Flight Support has outperformed the industry.
The company operates 103 fixed-base operations throughout the world, including one at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport.
It handles more than a million aircraft movements in a year, sells 160 million gallons of Jet A fuel a year, and houses one in every 10 business jets in its hangars. It employs 2,300 people through its network of fixed-base operations.
The company also operates four overhaul facilities and 12 regional turbine centers, including a turbine center inside Cessna Aircraft’s plant in Wichita.