During the financial crisis, many CEOs and companies were criticised for spending huge sums on private jets. In the public eye, these aircraft were toys for the super-rich and for business which did not care about money. Truth be told, this was the biggest misconception about private aviation.
What people see is the cost side of a private aircraft, but not the benefits. The time of CEOs, politicians and other important people is valuable, and although it cannot be quantified, we can get a glimpse of the time value of these people by simple looking at the workload and travel requirements of the president. Many people see the champagne and the luxuries on board of these aircraft, but they dismiss the idea that this transport mode allows people to be at three different locations within one day. Try and travel for business meetings from Chicago to New York and to Washington in a single day. With conventional airlines that is close to impossible.
The flexibility that offers private aviation is its greatest value. And in the long term, even the financial benefits become clearer, because contracts can be made quicker, projects started faster and people hired earlier. Not to forget the tens of thousands of people who earn their money organizing, handling, flying, maintaining airplanes, and those indirectly earning their income by providing services to the service providers.
About half of the customers in private aviation are businesses and corporations, followed by the entertainment business and then by high-net-worth-individuals. Analysing the HNWI group, one might think they spend awful amount of money travelling on their private jets. But by looking closer, one will notice that the cost per seat comes down with the number of passengers. The aircraft costs the same on an hourly basis, whether you fly with one or with ten passengers. And suddenly, the private jet becomes affordable for groups. The cost-per-seat comes down to the same price that would cost a business class ticket on an airline. With the difference that you cannot tell the airline when to take off, to wait for you if you are stuck in traffic, and without the personal touch.
To conclude the story, I want people to think twice before they judge the private aviation industry. It is important for the economy and a lot less expensive if you look at the per-seat-cost. Maybe next time you go on a holiday, it is worth asking for a quote on a private jet.
Guillaume Schaack is Co-Founder / CEO of Abiria
A private pilot himself, he has worked in the private aviation sector and knows that organising and paying for a private charter flight can be the slowest, highly inflated and most difficult process in the world. Hence the creation of Abiria, a platform that allows businesses and consumers to receive quotes for flights on private aircraft and book them online making it simple, transparent and more user-friendly.