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Rising Optimism

Submitted by Paul Maurer on Wednesday, 03/02/2011 - 04:34

The tide appears to be turning in business aviation’s favor as the sector continues to find its footing amidst the economic recovery. Manufacturers recently announced 2010 delivery numbers and are seeing positive signs of business growth (and perhaps a new “Super Bowl Index” to measure industry health – up to 1,100 departures this year vs. 700 last year).

Those positioned in the large-cabin segment are faring the best (Gulfstream & Bombardier). While Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft, focused more in light and mid-sized jets, reported encouraging signs of turnaround. Incredibly, Embraer continued its remarkable ascension in 2010 – growing from delivering just 3% of jets in 2008 to an astounding 19% in 2010. This month Embraer opened a brand new assembly plant in Florida to handle expected growth – a much welcomed 200 new jobs for the industry.

Even the government is doing its part. The imminent passage of the FAA Re-authorization Bill will help allay cost uncertainties, though it raises general aviation fuel taxes to 35.9 cents per gallon from 21.9 cents. And the FAA lent credibility to this increasing optimism by predicting robust growth in the long-term outlook for business aviation (4% annual flight hour increases vs. 2.5% domestic commercial passenger enplanement increases over the next 20 years).

So what does all this mean for travelers? My feeling is that increased confidence will translate into a more vibrant array of service offerings and aircraft upgrades in 2011. For example, NetJets’ 2010 turnaround already prompted a modernization of their fleet. XOJet invested in WiFi access in all their aircraft while announcing a new frequent flier program (i.e. volume discount program) called, “Coast2Coast”. Meanwhile, Sabre partnered with a charter broker, JetUs, to provide easier charter booking access to the corporate travel community. And FlyRuby launched a site to provide sophisticated search and booking capabilities for jet charter.

Let’s hope this innovative activity continues.

(Excerpted from the February, 2011, Igojet e-newsletter. To receive future e-newsletters directly to your Inbox, please click here and sign up)

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