Business Jets are once again flying in increasing numbers despite economic uncertainty and rising fuel costs. The rise in business travel using private business jets is an indication that executives are feeling increasingly more confident about profitability in the recovering economy.
Jet Support Services Inc. (JSSI), the world’s largest independent provider of hourly cost maintenance programs for aircraft engines and airframes, reported an 11.4% rise in Biz Jet flight hours in the first quarter of 2011 when compared to the same time period last year. JSSI also reported a 7% increase in flight hours in those same business jets in April alone from the level flown in April of last year. Corporate Flight departments, as well as Fractional Ownership operations such as NetJets and CitationAir have, are in the process of recalling furloughed pilots and hiring new ones to operate the increased number of flights.
“We are not back to late ’07, early ’08 levels, but we’re really off the bottom of where we were,” says Lou Seno, president and CEO of JSSI. “In the fall of 2008, following the decline of the financial markets … flying literally fell off the charts, and because of the economy and everything else. But the recovery we’re seeing has been encouraging.”
“It appears that people are getting back to doing business and out using their airplanes for the purpose which (they’re) … meant to be used,” Seno says. “For guys who have to go out and make it happen, the only way to do it is in a corporate airplane, where you can get in and make five stops in one day.”
Business travelers are still trying to be as efficient as possible of course, experts say.
“They’re still doing things intelligently,” Seno says. “They put six people on an airplane and see 12 customers in two days. We hear those stories all the time.”
“I think people were trained to economize in the recent economy, and habits are hard to break,” noted industry analyst Brian Foley noted. “I think it will be awhile before we get back to full use of business jets, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction.”