The latest statistics show real evidence, not just hope, that global Business Aviation is recovering after many difficult years. So how can the industry continue to thrive despite the challenges ahead? Avinode's Per Marthinsson discusses in this guest column...
These are exciting times for Business Aviation. The last few years have seen renewed and justified optimism spreading across the industry. After a tough decade, and the lingering impact of the global financial crisis, we can finally talk confidently of sustained growth. So, is the battle won?
Probably not. Relaxing is rarely an option and never a good idea in business – there are always foreseeable challenges and unwelcome surprises ahead. Nonetheless, let’s take a moment to enjoy the current health of international BizAv.
At the heart of the industry, the Medium Jet sector (Mid-size, Super-Mid-size and Heavy) is particularly strong. For the year November 1, 2017 through October 31, 2018, there were 100,209 ‘Trips’ (meaning journeys sourced, not necessarily booked, through Avinode) for Medium Jets for domestic US flights. That’s an impressive 39% increase on the previous year (72,262 Trips).
Better yet, good news is not limited to the US. There were 176,848 Trips for Medium Jet flights originating in Europe for the year to October 31, 2018, up a lively 29% on the previous 12 months (137,091 Trips). France, the UK and Germany remain important markets for European BizAv, with the UK enjoying the highest number of transatlantic business jet movements.
Unfortunately, talk of Europe brings us to one of the most likely brakes on growth – Brexit. Hoping for the best while preparing for the worst is a smart approach here. In many ways, uncertainty is harder than being sure there’s a crisis ahead but, realistically, uncertainty is all we have. The rising price of jet fuel is another financial concern, as is pilot availability, which is worsening toward a crisis point.
But these headwinds aren’t stalling progress in all areas. Firstly, technology will keep driving us forward through the challenges ahead.
Disruptive technologies are bringing charter operators, brokers and customers closer than ever before. The online marketing, booking and payment of charter flights is becoming easier every day.
Automation is bringing unprecedented levels of speed, accuracy and efficiency to the administration of BizAv, not least in the generation of quotes.
And new application programming interfaces (APIs) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms mean companies can enjoy state-of-the-art IT without spending big money. As technology helps BizAv become increasingly unified and interconnected, the industry will become stronger and more resilient to changing market forces.
Secondly, none of these challenges – Brexit, rising fuel costs, pilot shortages – are unique to BizAv; all are shared by the broader aviation industry. And there are many areas where BizAv already outperforms the services delivered by commercial airlines, a fact which must be promoted and exploited.
Anyone who has circled waiting for a packed airliner to land behind schedule will appreciate the joy of landing without delay in a private jet at a dedicated Business Aviation airport.
A third critical point is that Business Aviation can – and must – attack the pilot shortage to beat airlines to top talent. If you want the prestige of flying famous CEOs around in Gulfstream G650s, there isn’t much point working for easyJet.
Everyone involved in BizAv needs to be spreading the word about the unique benefits of a career in the sector.
Good times never last forever. Inevitably, there will be troubles ahead for Business Aviation. But with the right strategies in place, and particularly the intelligent use of technology, our industry can be ready for anything.
About the Author
Per Marthinsson is co-founder and executive vice president Americas, Avinode Group, a leading technology and data partner for the business air charter industry. Since founding Avinode in 2001 alongside Niklas Berg and Niclas Wennerholm, Per has held several positions within the company including Sales Director, Product Manager, CFO and CEO.