UNLOCKING THE MYSTERIES OF BUSINESS JETS

By Kenneth J. Curry

As the world continues to grow smaller through the rapid spread of technology, the business jet or corporate aircraft is more and more becoming a necessary resource. The vast improvements in communications, whether by modem or voice, over fiber optic cable or via satellite, has concurrently increased the need for a physical presence. Certainly airlines will continue to meet this need for the broad cross section of the population. However, the business jet more effectively addresses that need for the business or political leader and his staff. It also addresses similar needs of entertainers, celebrities and a broad cross-section of clientele who are able to afford this exclusive way to travel.

Regardless of his background, the customer can be assured that he will travel according to his schedule. He will have the privacy to conduct meetings, have discussions, or work while enroute. All of the passengers can dine and rest at their convenience, without disturbance. Both in the air and on the ground, the corporate aircraft provides that extra measure of security not found when traveling on public transportation. Communications with the office and clients can continue unabated by means of telephone, modem, data link, and radio.

The method of access to corporate aircraft is through purchase, lease or charter. After purchasing or leasing an aircraft, the buyer is faced with the choice of either employing his own crew and maintenance personnel, or utilizing the services of an aircraft management company. The aircraft management company usually offers an array of services including flight crews, maintenance, accounting, and all other details necessary to keep the aircraft operational. If the owner desires, the aircraft management company can market the aircraft for charter in addition to operating it for the owner. The chartering of the owner's aircraft can create a revenue stream to help offset the cost of ownership.

Chartering a corporate aircraft avoids the capital cost altogether while allowing the purchaser his choice of aircraft. The cost of a charter is generally only a little more than the cost of a first class airline ticket, assuming all seats are filled on the charter aircraft. The charter cost per flight hour is about two times more than the direct operating cost of the aircraft. All inclusive in the cost is the crew, fuel and maintenance of the aircraft. The only additional costs generally are crew overnights, landing fees, catering, and applicable taxes. A charter, however, is an "on demand" service that offers no guarantee of aircraft availability, much less the availability of a particular type of aircraft. This requires more advanced planning, particularly for international trips. One may also have to do some "shopping," both for price and availability.

The need to travel by private corporate aircraft will continue to grow as our world becomes smaller. As it grows, the best business aviation companies will continue to be sensitive to the marketplace. They also must be always willing to adapt and continue to initiate new paradigms in the field. This is the only way business aviation companies can expect to effectively meet the present and constantly evolving needs of existing and future customers.

Ken Curry is the General Manager for Petersen Aviation in Van Nuys, California. He can be reached at 1(800) 451-7270.

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