Defending general aviation by the numbers

Guest Editorial: By René Banglesdorf

The private aviation industry is an often misunderstood and under-valued resource of the American economy. Without it, many of the best companies in the country wouldn’t be half as productive as they are.

It was all over the news when the Big Three car manufacturers were lambasted for flying private jets to attend Congressional hearings, but the vast majority of Americans weren’t privy to the reasons for the CEO’s method of travel. It saddens me that the very people who jump on the bandwagon to attack private aviation are the ones who have the most to lose.

A CEO forced to fly commercial — which makes him or her much less effective — directly impacts the company’s bottom line and, ultimately, its employees. A CEO not closing a big deal means production cuts, quotas missed and, ultimately, jobs lost.

The world of private aviation is not the same as the luxury yacht market. The majority of times, private jets are used as essential business tools, not the sexy means of arrival for a junket. Disallowing use of this business tool hurts every American in a global economy when we need every competitive advantage we have.

From a business standpoint, private aviation is a win-win. It enables you to travel in the most efficient way, without security queues, layovers or distractions in the airport or on the plane. When you have several team members traveling together and you factor in their hourly wages and how much time is wasted in traveling on commercial airlines, it becomes cost-effective as well. You’d be surprised to learn how many small- and mid-sized companies have used this competitive differentiator to expand their business footprint and grow, even in a down economy.

If you value the impact of meeting face-to- face, shaking hands, and inking deals in person, business aviation is an important asset to consider. For instance, if a team from a Dallas-based company needs to visit a client’s facility in Fort Stockton, Texas, and then meet with the company’s executives in San Antonio, there are several options:

1. They can pile into two SUVs and drive:

Time: 7 hours to drive to Ft. Stockton; have the meeting. Spend the night. 5 hour drive to San Antonio; have the meeting; then a 4 hour drive back to Dallas. Cost: 2 Vehicles, 1,000 miles of driving, 6 full tanks of gas: $360; 36 meals, average $20 per meal: $720; 6 hotel rooms, $150 per night: $900; lost productivity: 80 man hours in two days, just in driving, $8,000 (at a conservative $100 per man hour). Total Cost of Trip: $9,980.

2. They can fly commercially:

Time: 1 hour at airport, 1 hour flight to Midland International Airport (MAF), 2 hour drive to Ft. Stockton; have the meeting. 2 hour drive back to MAF, 1 hour at airport. 1 hour flight to San Antonio. Spend the night. Have the meeting. 1 hour at airport, 1 hour flight back to Dallas. Cost: 18 airline tickets @ $200 per ticket, $3,600; two rental cars, $50; 30 meals, $600, 6 hotel rooms @ $150 per night, $900; lost productivity: 60 man hours in two days: $6,000. Total cost of trip: $11,150.

3. They can fly privately:

Time: 1.5 hour flight to Ft. Stockton, 10 minute drive to facility, have the meeting; 10 minute drive back to airport, 1 hour flight to San Antonio, have the meeting at the airport’s FBO, 1 hour flight back to Dallas. Cost: 3.5 hours in a chartered PC-12 ($1,000 an hour) $3,500; 12 meals, $240. Lost productivity: 0. Executives can continue working on the plane without distractions. Total cost of trip: $3,740.

Doing the math is a compelling enough exercise, but when you factor in the talent companies attract when they communicate that their sales, technical and management’s time and quality of life are that valuable, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Rene Banglesdorf is the CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation in Texas. She can be reached at


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  1. Rod Beck says

    Aviation’s biggest problem – BUSINESS – they (management) has been and still continues to be “their own worst enemy” – maybe the “wizads of smart” could take some hints from our Asia friends. It just gets down to over SUPPLY and to little DEMAND – nothing magical about that – just common business cent$!

  2. says

    1. Americans aren’t good at math–it’s not a compelling argument. 
    2. The next bailout will like by Cessna / Hawker Beech, etc., because they are borrowing too much money and not running their business in a smart way.

    So overall I’d say your post is only “preaching to the choir,” and if we want to convince the American public instead of ourselves, we’ve got some work to do.

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