Flying is essential in the modern business world, and private aircraft charter is an increasingly important piece of the business travel market. More and more companies charter a jet or purchase their own private aircraft as a way to streamline business and increase productivity while maintaining personal connectivity. There are a lot of reasons for this, including speed (a private jet can fly higher and avoid air traffic, in addition to speeding up the boarding and disembarking process); productivity (a 2009 survey found that 20% of business people say they?re more productive on a private aircraft charter than even in the office); and convenience (the different types of private jets have access to a network of over 5,000 airports, as opposed to the 550 available with commercial airline travel).
The result of all this has been an explosion in the private aircraft charter market. Since 2012, the demand for jet charter has grown consistently with economic improvements. With the economy boom currently being experienced in the United States, that demand is only going to increase. Businesses that are doing well financially become increasingly confident about private aircraft charter as the way to get around and connect as quickly and efficiently as possible. The United States already accounts for nearly 50% of the worldwide jet charter market, and the business aviation industry employs 1.2 Americans and generates $150 billion per year.
There are two major threats to the industry going forward. The first is fuel prices and flight costs. Fuel prices can be difficult to predict and are always a wildcard for all members of the aviation industry, both commercial and private. Another potential flight cost issue is all the rapid advances in the aerospace industry, which is putting new planes on the market on a regular basis. Private aircraft charter have to make proactive decisions about when and how to upgrade: upgrades can be very expensive, but there is tremendous potential for high returns on investment for those who jump the trend at the right moment.
Another issue influencing the business charter jet industry is the advance of communication technologies. Companies can now do video conferencing and other live communication so cheaply and rapidly that this may reduce the need for physical travel. One of the challenges, but also great opportunities, for the industry going forward will be making the case for physical business travel and the face-to-face interaction it facilitates as something that teleconferencing can never fully replace.
Despite these challenges, the executive jet charter industry is still more profitable than the commercial airline industry. In 2011, there were 11,261 private jets in America; by the following year that number was 12,051. It looks as if the private aircraft charter market is poised to continue widening that gap in years to come.