fbpx

BTE – About Time

It's about time

A look at the total cost of air travel opens up new prospects for business aviation solutions

Travel. It eats up time like Cookie Monster in a Chips Ahoy factory. Throw in a storm or a Polar Vortex and 20 percent of airline passen­gers never get where they are going, and the rest will take the better part of a day to get there.

That’s a lot of time. Time you could spend closing a deal or, better yet, time you could have with your family. Indeed, Millennials travelers are forcing companies to move the needle because they want a return to the out-and-back-in-one-day business trip that is now a thing of the past. Companies, too, have noted the impact of travel on road warriors.

But one solution – business aviation – is rising in popularity as it restores the pro­ductivity that’s been lost to the airlines.

"The difference between airlines, who wait for no one, and business aviation is we fly on the traveler's schedule and flights are tailored to the company and the mission,"

Greg Raiff, Private Jet Services CEO

“Every business survey concludes that personal, one-on-one meeting is the best tool for a successful business. Business aviation is then the partner in that mission, going when travelers need to go and being flexible when traveler’s needs change mid-mission.”

Raiff points to the fits and starts of an airline trip to make his point. While a business aviation flight takes 15 minutes from car

door to aircraft hatch, airline travel includes the walk through a massive parking lot only to be stopped at security. Then a long walk to the gate and the scrum of lining up to board, waiting to board, waiting for other passengers ahead of you to stuff their carryon bags in the over­heads, and then settling in yourself to the increasingly small real estate airlines are affording passengers.

“And that’s just the beginning,” says Raiff. “This stop-and-go travel is described as seamless by the airlines which could not be further from the truth. Most trips require a hub stop and change of planes which is just more downtime. So the cost is considerable because airline travel is geared toward the efficiency of the airline, not the traveler.”

A recent Bloomberg report supports his point. It showed airlines themselves cause the vast majority of all disruptions or six out of 10 flights. “Airline-caused delays totaled 20.2 million minutes last year – 2.7 million more than all other categories combined,” according to the report, calling them unexplained delays. In fact, it said, airline-caused delays – mechanicals, late arriving flights, crews timing out, lack of gates – have blossomed while ATC delays have been halved since 2007.

Add in the all-too-frequent cancellations and rebookings, and you’re done. The US General Accountability Office (G AO) reports each cancellation means an addi­tional 18 hours for travelers to ultimately reach their destination owing to 85 to 100 percent load factors airlines are current-ly enjoying. Another study showed the economic impact of delays is $60 billion worldwide in time lost, missed connections and missed travel activity.

“On average, over 30 percent of all flights arrive behind ‘AO’ which is on time,” says ATH Group president Michael Baiada, who has developed a system he says airlines could use to eliminate the majority of delays. “Calculated from the passenger statistics released by the International Air Transport Association, that’s 3.6 million passengers per day in the world who didn’t arrive on time. This ‘Operational Dismality’ means missed connections and missed meetings. How many times has the captain said you’ve arrived early only to add there is no gate? How many times has a crew timed out? What other industry accepts a 30 percent ‘day of’ defect rate? Unfortu­nately, airlines are not interested because the true cost goes unreported except in passenger satisfaction.”

Furthermore, he cautions, don’t be fooled by airline’s on-time statistics. “A lot of airlines are focusing on on-time performance,” he explains, adding such statistics get a lot of ink in the press. “But what airlines are actually doing is padding schedules because they know, operational­ly, they can no longer fly those routes in the time they used to 40 years ago, represent­ing billions in lost productivity. Aviation is the only high-tech industry that has not increased productivity and it is passengers who pay the price. And, no, the problem is not ATC or weather.”

Ask the right questions

Until they invent a Star Trek-like transport­er there’s no magic bullet solution except get smarter about how travel gets done.

“Companies have to rethink their travel strategy,” says Raiff. “There is a cost to air­line travel in productivity and road warrior burn out. So companies need to ask a lot more questions than just price and sched­ule. They need to understand why they are traveling. They need to ask if airlines are the most efficient means, especially for out-of-the-way locations.”

Raiff advises companies to take a closer look at what commercial air travel is deliv­ering for the cost. “Can airlines put them in multiple locations in a single day? How many unnecessary overnights are required by using airlines? What is the door-to-door time and how much down time is forced on their travelers because they are flying through an hub? How much does it cost the company to respond to disruptions?”

Finally, he points to the human cost. “How much is that traveler’s time worth and what is all this doing to the traveler? All these factors should be going into travel planning. Once you factor in all these is­sues, you’d be surprised at the result which tips the balance toward private aviation.”

In fact, more and more companies are making those calculations and opting for private aviation, a fact that’s reflected in the growth of the private flying. JSSI Business Aviation Index, which tracks utilization of approximately 2,000 business aircraft worldwide, reported a 3.1 percent year over year increase in flight hours between 04 2018 and 04 2019.

“Despite the dramatic market swings that defined the end of the year, flight hours were up significantly for both the quarter and the year,” says Neil W. Book, president and CEO of JSSI. “We have seen flight activity increase worldwide and a growing demand for private travel.”

“The fact is, successful companies are usibvng both airlines and business aviation depending on the mission,” he explains, citing industry statistics. “A lot of business aviation flying is to locations that are not near hub airports but are near sophisticat­ed local airports designed to actually serve the transportation needs of the community they are in. Business aircraft can reach 5,000 airports just in the US alone, while airlines can only serve 500. A single busi­ness aircraft can bring a community $2.5 billion in economic benefit.”

Business aviation is a vital tool for businesses looking to increase productivity and efficiency of their travel programs, notes Raiff, who pointed to the proximity of airports to actual destinations as a key advantage.

“The fact is, successful companies are usibvng both airlines and business aviation depending on the mission,” he explains, citing industry statistics. “A lot of business aviation flying is to locations that are not near hub airports but are near sophisticat­ed local airports designed to actually serve the transportation needs of the community they are in. Business aircraft can reach 5,000 airports just in the US alone, while airlines can only serve 500. A single busi­ness aircraft can bring a community $2.5 billion in economic benefit.”

Dispelling the notion that the corporate jet is the exclusive domain of the top ech­elons of industry, Raiff says, “Only half of business aviation flying is the C-Suite. The other half is middle-level customer service and engineering personnel keeping cus­tomers happy, suppliers improving supply chain productivity, or valued customers a business wants to retain.”

Business aviation – whether by twin-en­gine turboprops or intercontinental jets – deserves a second look. Business aviation is definitely not just for the rich – but it is for the successful.

PRIVATE AVIATION IS ALL ABOUT ATTENTION TO DETAIL