When the “Detroit Three” CEOs flew to Washington in private jets to seek federal bailouts, they not only damaged the auto industry’s image, they tainted the image of business jets as well, wrote Ted Reed in TheStreet.com on April 21. Already reeling from deteriorating sales in the down economy, the business jet industry has found itself dealing with a guilt-by-association, public relations catastrophe, Reed wrote.
“What we saw was the caricature of the auto executives promoted as being representative of what business aviation is in the U.S.,” said Ed Bolen, CEO of the National Business Aviation Association. “Really, it bore little or no resemblance to the vast majority of business aviation. “The automobile executives never really explained whether theirs was an appropriate use of business aviation or not,” Bolen said. “That led people to think that it was an inappropriate use, (prompting) the next question: ‘Is business aviation always inappropriate?'”
The effect was to link corporate jets along with undeserved bonuses, the financial meltdown and banking failures in the litany of what’s wrong with America. By March, anti-private jet sentiment was so pervasive that one airline mounted an advertising campaign, visible at www.welcomebigwigs.com, to capitalize on the sentiment.
In February, the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and some manufacturers mounted a campaign to counter the negative message. The campaign points out that business aviation creates more than 1.2 million jobs and has a positive balance-of-trade impact, with most major manufacturers based in the U.S. Among business jet operators, 85% are small and midsized companies, while just 4% are among the Fortune 500, Bolen said. A typical business aviation operation may involve an executive with meetings in four cities in a day, a corporate headquarters in a small town with minimal air service, movement of products too big to carry on and too fragile for the baggage hold, and movement of medical supplies to small towns, he said.
To read the full story: http://www.thestreet.com/story/10484001/3/private-aviation-battles-image-woes.html