Business Aviation VS. Commercial Airline: Let’s Compare 

 January 5, 2022

By  Mike Flannelly

If you were to ask the public to use only public transportation vs. private automobiles for travel needs you would likely get a much different response as to what is “appropriate” as opposed to when you ask the same of air travel for people and business. We will leave the WANT for later since I am talking about just filling "basic" elements of what's needed to function on a daily basis.  Ultimately you satisfy cost (and feature) requirements in combination with accommodating what you deem are sensible and needed.

This may sound outrageous and even a bit insensitive yet it’s an accurate analogy.  You people taking commercial airlines are riding the bus.  I'm not trying to disparage public transportation in anyway, after all it’s a central component of our infrastructure to some of the most densely populated and busy urban territories of our country.  The need for it is obvious to those who travel, work or visit our large cities.  I don't think there are many out there what would argue against the validity, function or utility of the commercial airlines.  They allow travel to great distances at relatively low cost for the time spent.

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However, how much business do you actually do in those locations?  Is that where your customers are? When conducting business and travel, the idea of traveling to every location you need to visit via mass transit is likely a non-starter for most of you.  Why do you own a personal vehicle instead of just taking mass transit?  Well, assuming you even have a system in your particular location you still probably prefer the freedom and flexibility personal transportation offers and the price point is in your value range.

You may or may not know that commercial aviation (the airlines) serve roughly 4 to 5 hundred locations across the United States.  I say 4 to 5 hundred because they are NOT public transportation, they are for profit organizations that will close and open routes THEY deem profitable and not necessarily what business needs.  That may sound like a lot until you account for the size of the U.S., 3.8 million square miles; so you average 1 airport for every 7.5 thousand square miles.  Contrast that to General Aviation, i.e. Private travel, with approximately 5000 airports available or 1 every 760 square miles and you begin to see what "commercial" vs "general" aviation means to your travel options.

Regrettably, much of what we hear about business aviation or private travel is likely from media, be that social or otherwise and  95 to 99 % of the time, "private" aviation is portrayed as the extravagant celebrity, big company or uber rich specter of wealth and not the actual utility or worth general aviation has proven to offer.  Furthermore, that portrayal doesn't reflect the bulk of what IS the general aviation industry.  Not all business or private aviation is the G5's and limousines you typically see from the media.  In fact that segment of the market only makes up no more than 12% of the entire general aviation fleet.  Additionally, that 12% includes the "entire" jet and turbine equipment fleet.  If you remove the "poor" mans jet airplanes, (I’m being very facetious when I say that :)) the top of the top (what the media reports on) really only makes up closer to only 3%.  Pareto's 80/20 principle is blown out of the water when you look at what most people hear about business and private aviation.  If you were to hear just 20% of what general aviation was about you'd have an entirely different view of the industry as well as its practicality for your business travel needs.

These are generalizations I know, but without some sort of "context" to frame the discussion and decision points you will have trouble understanding what value it has to offer. 

Mike Flannelly

Aviation Consultant

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