Business Aviation Fights Back
May 30, 2009
By: Jennifer Harrington
Industry organizations and airplane manufacturers have launched campaigns to counter the smears and misconceptions about business aviation.
The economic downturn has taken its toll on business aviation. Not only is the industry "confronting one of the worst economic storms anyone can remember," according to staments made at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) by Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), but it is also fighting to justify its existence following a spate of negative press reports.
The trouble started not long after Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, said during a Congressional hearing that the decision by the CEOs of the Big Three automakers to use business jets was like “seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in [a] high hat and tuxedo.”
But according to a document released by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the problem is not the jets themselves; rather, the problem is the “inability of users to articulate the benefits.”
Companies that purchase business jets are not using them to “jet off to holiday destinations as press reports implied,” the association said. “Business aircraft are not a luxury; rather, they are just another business communication tool–an air transport option tailored to the specific needs of companies.”
No Plane, No Gain
NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), meanwhile, have launched “No Plane, No Gain,” a joint advocacy campaign that underscores the importance of business aviation and provides resources for the industry.
“At a time when we are facing almost unprecedented economic challenges, U.S. businesses need tools that will help them enhance productivity, maximize flexibility, and maintain strong communications,” Bolen stated in a press release. “Business aviation is critical to tens of thousands of cost-conscious companies fighting to succeed in a difficult market.”
GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce added, “The contributions of business aviation to our nation’s employment, commerce, competitiveness and health are profound but not always well understood. It is responsible for well over one million manufacturing and service jobs, and is one of the few industries that contributes positively to our nation’s balance of trade. It is also serving as a lifeline for communities all across the country that are seeing scheduled airline service being reduced or eliminated.”
Manufacturers Get On Board
In addition to the “No Plane, No Gain” campaign, airplane manufacturers have also decided to tackle the misconceptions surrounding business aviation.
“We think it’s time the other side of the story be told, and that support be given to those businesses with the good judgment and courage to use business aviation to not only help their businesses survive the current financial crisis, but more quickly forge a path toward an economic upturn,” stated Cessna chairman, president and CEO Jack J. Pelton.
In a press release, the company said it plans to run advertisements that highlight the benefits of business aviation. According to Cessna, general aviation contributes more than $150 billion annually to the U.S. economy and is responsible for 1.2 million jobs in all 50 states.
Hawker-Beechcraft has also gotten on board and has run ads in the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Financial Times and other publications.
“Many in the media and some politicians have misrepresented business aircraft as a symbol of excess instead of an increasingly necessary business tool,” Charles Mayer, vice president of marketing at HBC said of the campaign launch. “This negative stereotype is damaging the ability of American corporations to compete globally and, at the same time, jeopardizing thousands of American aviation jobs.
“Frankly, we are puzzled by this approach given the importance of aviation to the American economy,” Mayer said. “It not only represents more than 5.5 percent of total GDP, but is an industry that America dominates globally. It is time to embrace our strongest industries, not destroy them.”
No Plane No Gain: Sampling of 2010 Coverage
Since the launch of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, a concerted effort has been made to deliver the message about the importance of business aviation through national and local news outlets. This sampling of national and local television coverage in 2010, highlights the campaign's effectiveness in communicating the industry's importance.
NBAA's Bolen on Fox Business Network
Click here to see Ed Bolen, President and CEO of NBAA, in an interview on Fox Business Network
NBAA's Bolen on DC's Newschannel 8
In an interview with Newschannel 8, Bolen explains that "... business aviation is prudent, cost-effective, and oftentimes, the only way to get where you're going."