This week the BBC featured an article on business jets and the image associated with them. There were some interesting comments from those in the industry.
It is an industry that is perceived as exclusive and opulent, but actually the luxury is a by-product, not the goal.
The industry has been misjudged said Steve Varsano, of The Jet Business, a private jet and helicopter broker in London. “People have the wrong idea about business aviation,” he says. “It’s a business tool.”
Inside The Jet Business showroom a full-sized Airbus ACJ cabin has been reconstructed to showcase large, soft leather seats and fridges filled with champagne.
“It is luxurious,” he acknowledges. “But it’s not really about luxury. When you spend $20m, or $30, or $50m on a private jet, the cost of the luxury aspect makes up perhaps 1-2% of the total price, so why not make it comfortable?”
The article suggests that difficulties obtaining finance for corporate jets one of the reasons why the market has struggled, with bankers being unwilling to finance private jets.
Eddie Pieniazek, global head of consultancy, Ascend commented “There’s plenty of potential for the market going forward. Aircraft are still being delivered, Europe’s still busy, and we’re expecting to see roughly as many aircraft delivered this year as last year.”
Brian Humphries, president and chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association observes “We’ve had a huge increase in the European fleet in the last decade,” he says, pointing to how there were only about 2,000 turbine powered aircraft in Europe in the 1990s, compared with about 4,000 today.
Within the business, some operators of business aircraft are struggling in a market where margins are tight, Mr Humphries acknowledges.
This growth in demand for high-end private jets and helicopters confirms the continuing growth in the spending power of the famous and the powerful.