In business, change is inevitable, and the ability to respond to that change is vital to the long-term sustainability of any company.
Since 2008 there has been a constant undercurrent, an evolution in business and corporate aviation, away from direct aircraft ownership, as more business aviation users indicate that they want “out” of owning and operating aircraft.
For Fortune 1000 companies and Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs), using their own aircraft proves invaluable for safety, privacy, and security. For many others, fluctuating flying requirements and the cost to operate a dedicated corporate flight department may make owning and maintaining a rapidly depreciating asset more of a liability than a benefit, and no longer sustainable. This change comes at a time when, due to global economic uncertainty, some companies opt to keep maximum investment flexibility focused on developing their core businesses, instead of spending to grow and operate a fleet to support their diverse travel missions.
The last five years of growth of new options in the charter, jet card, and fractional industries is tangible proof of this shifting demand. You now have a choice of many providers and programs, which offer a wide variety of business aircraft access options at many different price points.
Mere marketing promises of how the provider intends to address your specific travel requirements are insufficient. As a savvy business aviation user, you’ll want to seek out a company that both meets your requirements and also offers:
- Strong operations knowledge that fosters security
- Seamless technology that makes scheduling easy and transparent
- Simple transactions with no hidden costs
- Flexible options that can encompass shuttle services for large workforce movements, on-demand shared charter for lower and middle management, and guaranteed availability for senior executives.
While those features are only the first level of vetting aircraft operators, bizav users like you need to look beyond such customer-focused features. High quality, safety, and innovation should be at the top of your list. Some pointers to help you navigate your options and select a high-quality charter operator are:
- Look for an advanced Safety Management System (SMS): an organization-wide comprehensive and preventive approach to managing safety. Choose an operator whose SMS more closely resembles that of an FAA Part 121 commercial operation than that of a typical FAA Part 135 on-demand charter operation. Integral parts of a voluntary proactive Part 135 SMS program should include features like:
- Aviation Safety Action Program to report safety issues
- and events
- Flight Operational Quality Assurance to record flight data
- Internal Evaluation Program to increase safety awareness, and
- Line Operations Safety Assessments to ensure safe aircraft ground handling.
- Search for providers moving towards an FAA commercial airline part 5 SMS program (as required for commercial airlines by title 14 of the FAA’s Code of Federal Regulations).While this is only voluntary for Part 135 operators, having one in place indicates a high investment in training to help ensure their team’s expertise – and your safety.
- Ask about the latest technological advancements. First level operators offer the ability to track and review all flight data, so as to maintain continual service improvement.
Business aviation prospers in a culture of safety, quality, and innovation. Only companies with a commitment to safety for both passengers and the industry will be able to sustain the growth of their business. But this is true only when coupled with continuing development of the companies’ service teams – from scheduling, to IT, to maintenance.
A marketplace where every flight is tailored to passengers’ individual transportation needs, ensuring seamless travel with the maximum efficiency and minimal disruption to its customers, and in the safest possible way, might be just around the corner for those who can afford it. BAA
Kevin Thomas is Chief Operating Officer, XOJET, the on-demand aviation services platform of Vista Global Holdings. He previously served as SVP Business Development & Strategic Planning for Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI).