There is a growing shift in corporate travel programs away from commercial to private business aviation. Safety concerns amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic opened up a new way of traveling to those who previously never considered the option. At the same time, the surge of post-pandemic travel has exacerbated the need for an alternative way to fly as limited flight availability and skyrocketing prices are still shaking the airline industry as we move into 2022.
On top of this massive shift in the aviation industry, growing airline inconveniences add to the need for businesses to explore better air travel options. Any traveler can relate to flight delays, overcrowding of aircraft and lack of direct routes due to airline hub-and-spoke structure. Commercial aviation is an industry geared toward the efficiency of the airline, not the traveler. That means that travel inconveniences and the lack of private business travel programs create employee dissatisfaction and cost corporations billions of dollars per year.
Even small businesses can benefit. Business travel is no longer exclusive to Fortune 500 companies or high-level executives. According to the National Business Aviation Association, 59 percent of all companies using business aviation have fewer than 500 employees and seven in 10 have less than 1,000 employees.
Businesses, therefore, need to calculate the impact of airline travel on employees and integrate the air charter function directly into corporate travel programs. Once disjointed and considered separate business functions, efficiency, employee happiness, and profitability must go hand-in-hand. Yet, many companies still hesitate.
Corporate Travel Cost Analysis
Most businesses do not understand the value proposition delivered by flying private, but business aviation is an affordable solution for almost any travel budget. To appreciate its value, we look at the economic effects of commercial aviation.
The FAA estimated that for 2019, the annual cost of delays for passengers alone was $18.1 billion (assuming a $49/hour average value of time). This was nearly double the amount taken on by airlines. When factoring in lost demand, which the FAA cites as “welfare loss,” and the effects on other industries and loss of employee productivity, the total cost of delays grows to an astounding $33 billion.
Incentivizing Business Aviation
On the opposite end of the spectrum, business aviation considers everything that commercial aviation lacks for those essential functions of efficiency, employee happiness and profitability.
Businesses need to start treating time as a non-renewable resource to ensure that each of these critical functions works in tandem. Similar to oil, time, once used, can never be replaced. Efforts must shift to creating sustainable alternative time efficiencies for business travelers.
Business aviation is the start of this sustainable alternative. Here’s how the time savings add up to immense value for a corporation:
- Hourly Business Travel Costs — Calculating the combined hourly cost of an employee’s time often shows an offset in business aviation costs. For example, an employee can arrive at the airport just 15 minutes before a chartered business flight. With commercial aviation, time spent traveling from home to the airport, navigating security lines, baggage checks, boarding all passengers and more can cost a business upwards of 4 hours even before the plane takes off. Multiplying that time by an employee’s hourly rate and weekly travel equates to significant money lost.
- Work-life Balance — Business aviation turns commercially flown multi-day trips into single-day movements. This allows operations to cut down on the budget for extra meals, hotels and car rentals. The icing on the cake — employees spend less time away from home, are more productive, create more free time and build a work-life balance that will reduce attrition and expensive retraining and recruiting efforts.
- Connectivity & Privacy — Travelers require connectivity. Business aviation increases productivity while traveling with Wifi and useable phones available on all flights. This connectivity allows employees to work comfortably in-flight and have open business conversations when traveling together, ultimately decreasing burnout and increasing employee willingness to travel.
The New Normal
The facts and benefits are clear. Regardless of the type or size of a company, business aviation is now an essential part of corporate travel programs. The business community must come together to preserve charter air travel as a vital business tool, making business aviation the standard, not the exception, as we move into 2022.