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10-03-2010 / 04:28 AM

Believe it or not – there are industries which haven’t arrived in the 21st century yet. Sure, they use computers, communicate per email and have a presence in the Internet. But when you compare their processes, how they understand the market and how they are running sales & marketing with what is state-of-the-art in other industries, they look like dinosaurs.

Business Aviation is one of those who have staid behind. You want indications?

  • According Eurocontrol 40 percent of all business jet flights are positioning flights – aircraft flying empty from A to B to pick up a customer, who wants to fly from B to C.
  • The average utilization of a bizjet used in the charter market is a mere 300 to 400 hours per year. Many of these aircraft cost as much as a Dash-8 or a Canadair Jet, which have 2.000 productive hours per year.
  • Eurocontrol says that 63 percent of all operators in Europe have just one airplane. The U.S. market is not fundamentally different.
  • 90 percent of all business charters are arranged through brokers. Business Aviation is one of the last industries where you need to go through a middleman to buy a service.

When I recently told an executive of a big German charter and aircraft management firm, that I think they are living still in the 80s, his answer was: “May be true. But where is the problem?” Exclusivity has been an excuse for inefficiency and the abundance of customer’s money during the last boom made it easy not to change. But now we are living in a different world and Business Aviation is struggling to find its place.

A business jet is a time machine. It takes executives, technical specialists and other users where they want to go when they want to go. Our economy can’t get by without it. Just look at the Eurozone reaching from Lisbon to Tallinn and from the Polar Cycle to Sicily. But to exploit it full potential the Jurassic Parc of Business Aviation needs to evolve and to develop 21st century structures.. Business leader, who are pushing their companies through one cycle of efficiency gains after the next in order to stay competitive, simply expect all their partners, suppliers and service providers to have the same culture.

Those few, who have gotten the message, have been successful even during the downturn. My favourite example is Bernhard Fragner and his Globe Air team, a Linz/Austria based Citation Mustang operator. But innovators like him are scarce. We need many more like him.

Business Aviation finally needs to live up to its name.


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