Everyone seems to have an opinion on this so I thought that I would share mine. Admittedly, as the owner of Executive Charter Services, a private jet charter agent, I have a significant amount of bias when it comes to individuals and corporations making use of private jets such as Gulfstreams or LearJets. But after you clear away the hyperbole and the pithy sound bites what remains is that the proposed recipients of the “Bailout” money are companies who find themselves in dire financial trouble. I’m not arguing how they wound up in this position, nor past usage of the company jet, but now - RIGHT NOW, is when private aviation is going to be most crucial to the survival of these companies.
The ability to travel from meeting to meeting with efficiency and rapidity, hold high level discussions en-route, and minimize lost productivity while away from the office is precisely why private jets are utilized. You don’t see President Obama schleping around on Southwest, do you? No, the taxpayers foot the bill for Air Force One and we are happy to do it. We know that AF1 provides speed, security, and safety, to the most important American during this important time in our history. While the media enjoys proclaiming private jet usage as the ultimate in wasteful spending, it is often more cost effective to charter a private jet than to fly commercially. When all of the factors are taken into account - lost productivity, lodging, meals, rental cars, etc - the private jet becomes a true business tool. (SEE BELOW FOR A CASE STUDY) But the media isn’t interested in that, the close detailed comparison would take too long and besides, it’s much easier to jump on the bashing bandwagon.
I will be among the first to admit that there has been and most likely will continue to be misusage of corporate controlled private aviation, but let’s not force troubled companies to add to their difficulties by arbitrarily compelling them to travel via commercial airlines. I haven’t even mentioned the economic impact that the aviation industry and the private aviation sector have on the US Economy. Billions of dollars of lost revenue, taxes, and jobs will result from a massive curtailing of the industry.
Yes, I agree oversight is needed and a more careful approach to determining the right use for a private jet is appropriate, but I also maintain that stopping use of private aviation altogether will ultimately hinder the recovery process.
A senior partner and five attorneys from a large and well known law firm based in Manhattan needed to fly from New York to Macon, GA for a full day of depositions and dinner with the client. The earliest airline flight with connection to Macon departed at 8:30 a.m. wouldn’t arrive until close to noon, forcing the quintet to depart New York the previous evening. Additionally, there were no flights departing Macon connecting to New York after 7:00pm which meant that they would have to spend 2 nights in Macon and leave the following morning for arrival at 10:30am back in NY. They contacted Executive Charter Services for assistance in determining if using a private jet would be cost effective. We quoted a charter flight price of $9,475 for a seven-passenger Hawker 400XP business jet. The lawyers departed from Teterboro, NJ, near their homes, at 7:15am and arrived at the client’s office by 9:30am. Because the five polished the questions for the deposition and worked on other cases while in the air, they were productive and billing during the 2 hours that normally would have been lost to travel. After a full day of work and early dinner with the client, they departed Macon at 8:00pm, summarized the deposition on the way home, and were back on the ground in New York by 9:45 p.m. While the cost for last-minute commercial tickets was about $4000 less than the price of the charter, the firm was able to add back 15 hours of billable time, saved the cost of 5 hotel rooms for 2 nights, and had 5 well rested, fresh, and happy attorneys who spent the night at home with their families. In the end the private jet was actually $685 less than the commercial airline, making it a clear choice that chartering was the right option.