By Topeka Capital Journal Staff
March 24, 2011
Time will tell to what extent Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will follow through on his recent pledge to help stimulate growth of general aviation, but the fact he stated support for the industry is good in itself.
One key to boosting the business will be to remove the stigma that’s been attached to corporate aircraft since the recession, when the planes became a symbol of the culture of excess that helped send the economy into the tank.
LaHood took a step toward undoing the damage when he spoke to a rally of 2,000 aviation workers in Wichita this week.
“I am proud to stand with you, to work with you and to fight with you to make sure general aviation … continues to flourish as the economy picks up,” he said.
Speaking privately to industry executives, LaHood said he would support policies and regulatory changes to spur increased production of business and personal aircraft.
That’s good news for Kansans, obviously, and not just those who live in Wichita. What helps the aviation industry there helps the entire state economy.
Conversely, the turbulence that the industry hit during the recession hasn’t done the state any favors.
Granted, the falloff in sales and manufacturing was certainly understandable at the time. Tales of excess about use of corporate aircraft triggered outrage among Americans, which in turn led companies to reduce their purchases of jets in order not to trigger backlash from consumers.
But the public’s beef against corporate jets wasn’t necessarily that businesses used them. It was about how the companies were using the planes during the run-up to the recession.
We all tired of the stories that emerged during the time – of executives using jets for essentially all of their travel, even as their companies were losing money faster than you could burn it. Commercial flights? Ground transportation? Not for the high rollers.
But it was unfair that manufacturers had to pay for the excesses of their clients. Used appropriately, business jets can be a cost-effective tool for businesses – a fact any reasonable consumer can appreciate.
Ideally, corporations have learned that Americans see a difference between using jets to improve a company’s bottom line and abusing them as a personal perk.
That being the case, there’s no reason the general aviation industry can’t rebound along with the economy.
Source: TOPEKA CAPITAL JOURNAL