The image of the Big Three auto executives flying in their corporate jets to Washington in November 2008 to ask for billions in federal bailout money may still be fresh in most people’s minds, but the fact is that business jet use has been falling sharply — by double digits — for the last two years.
According to the FAA, which tracks business jet use, the number of flight operations peaked at 4.8 million in 2007, then fell by 11 percent in 2008 and 19 percent more in 2009, to 3.4 million flights. (In February 2009 alone, business flight operations fell by more than 30 percent.)
But now, business jet use may be on the way back, helped by a recovering economy and increased sales overseas.
In both December and January, business flight operations increased, compared with a year ago, according to the F.A.A.
Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Cessna, which is based in Wichita, Kan., and is known for its Citation business jets, said that while Cessna did not expect orders to pick up until 2011, he was seeing a few positive signs in an industry known for its cyclical nature. Some of that growth is coming from overseas, including India and Brazil.
“The downturn just whacked us and everyone else,” said Mr. Oliver. “But there are pockets here and there that are promising, and cancellations have slowed.”