Flying with the Airlines account for the greater part of corporate travel, but scores of corporations are gradually returning to flying their own aircraft. Executives seem anxious to steer clear of flight delays and other potential snags common when flying from crowded airports.
"We appear to be off the bottom," said Dan Hubbard of the National Business Aviation Association trade group that represents companies that own and charter planes. "We seem to be seeing things stabilize at this point."
Confidence in the reviving Business Jet market’s expansion is also being expressed by corporate jet manufacturers in tangible ways.
Gulfstream Aerospace, maker of some of the most popular business jets on the market for example, said today it would spend $500 million and add 1,000 jobs to meet a growing market for large-cabin aircraft.
“We are already seeing more demand for our large-cabin, long-range aircraft and are having a pretty good year so far”, Joe Lombardo, president of Gulfstream said.
Gulfstream’s expansion plans came shortly after a survey commissioned by avionics manufacturer Honeywell International predicted a full recovery in the global business-jet market is likely in 2011 and will increase in 2012.
Honeywell’s forecast that large-cabin aircraft such as Gulfstream’s G650 will “pace the recovery, and the mid-cabin and smaller planes will follow,” is “pretty accurate,” Lombardo said.
Bombardier Inc., based in Montreal and the largest manufacturer of corporate aircraft, also expressed confidence in the recovery by announcing long-range models on Oct. 16 to compete with the newer aircraft being produced by Gulfstream.
“It’s not surprising to us that the competition would want to get into the segment where the G650 is going to be, because it’s a growth market,” Lombardo said. “We don’t feel it’s going to hurt our ability to sell.”
Flights using Corporate Aircraft, including both privately owned and chartered aircraft, rose 7 percent to 2.84 million in the 12-month period through September, according to statistics collected by the Federal Aviation Administration.
"People are feeling more confident and things are starting to improve in the economy," said Shirley Mason, a vice president with Argus International Inc, which provides market research for the corporate aircraft industry.
Argus reported in its latest findings that overall use of corporate aircraft rose 10 percent in October, compared with September. The use of Chartered business aircraft increased 11 percent in the same time period.