While flying privately is currently in vogue, for many of us, private jets are closely identified with the Kardashians, Prince Harry and other boldface names. However, the core of the industry has little to do with the clinking of champagne flutes.
In its updated 2021 Business Aviation Fact Book, industry advocacy group No Plane No Gain offers a summary of how business aviation benefits non-users and many insights that may surprise.
While private jets are often associated with Hollywood and Wall Street, 80% of business airplane flights are to and from small communities, with 42% into communities with no or infrequent service– over 5,000 airports just in the U.S., compared to under 500 served by the airlines.
And while there are those images of companies with fleets of private jets, 75% of companies that use business aircraft have only one airplane.
Perhaps most surprising is that private jets are not merely a chariot for the CEO. Some 86% of flights carry technical, engineering, marketing, sales, middle management personnel and customers.
According to the report, flying privately correlates also with success. Virtually all (98%) of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies use business aviation. S&P companies that use business aviation outperform those that don’t by 70% and private aviation users outsell non-users by 23%.
It’s also not just big companies and big jets. Nearly half (45%) of companies that use private aviation have under 500 employees. And very few of those private planes are the big ones that are often pictured in celebrity photos or the movies. Eighty percent of the 17,000-business aircraft registered in the U.S. have cabins the size of an SUV.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
In terms of jobs, business aviation generates over one million. Over 100,000 workers are employed manufacturing private aircraft and overall, general aviation contributes over $125 billion to the economy.
The impact is nationwide. Private aviation in Ohio is responsible for 44,000 jobs and a labor income impact of over $3 billion. In Kansas, 39,000 general aviation jobs account for 2% of the state’s employment. Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, one of the nation’s busiest private jet airports, supports 15,000 jobs and over $2 billion in economic activity. Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles creates over $675 million in labor income.
What’s more, business aviation boosts the economy of rural America. In Kinston, North Carolina, where FlyExclusive, one of the largest U.S. charter operators, is based, it is creating over 500 jobs at an average wage of $10,000 more than the current county average.
According to the report, a single business aircraft can bring an airport and its community $2.5 million in economic benefit.
Private jets are often first responders in a crisis with 38% of pilots saying they flew humanitarian missions in the past year. After Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in 2019, private aviation pilots flew in doctors, medical personnel and over 520,000 pounds in supplies.
On a regular basis, the Corporate Angel Network works with over 500 companies that own private jets, making empty seats available to fly cancer patients for treatments – over 60,000 patients have flown since its founding in 1981.
One aspect of private jets that get plenty of press is carbon emissions, particularly when associated with UHNW users. The industry has committed to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onward and a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
NetJets, the world’s largest private jet operator, is investing in manufacturing sustainable aviation fuel, cutting carbon output by up to 80%. VistaJet, another large operator, says it will be carbon neutral by 2025. Manufacturers like Gulfstream Aerospace have been testing SAFs for over a decade.
But perhaps the most surprising statistic? Private jets contribute just 2% of total aviation emissions, which works out to 0.04% of global emissions, says No Plane No Gain.