Seamless travel experiences are essential to executive travel and they significantly help executives to focus on matters which are of highest priority to the company while on business travel.
There has been a definite paradigm shift in the understanding of the value proposition that business aviation (business travel using company owned aircraft or private air charter services) provides for corporate companies. The key misconception so far was that business aviation is primarily a luxury service and hence it does not justify the use of corporate resources. However, this key misconception is changing as shareholders are increasingly beginning to view private air travel as a way to increase executive productivity and thus it can have a positive impact on business. Business aviation is thus losing its elitist aura as more companies beyond Fortune India 500 have started using it regularly.
The following are top five reasons why business aviation is beneficial for most companies:
The following is the detailed explanation:
The basic premise of business aviation is that it provides tremendous amount of flexibility to senior executives who want to travel where they want to and when they want to. For example, in many cases the corporate headquarters are located in tier 1 cities and the factories or project locations are based in tier 2 or 3 cities where commercial air connectivity may either not be available or the timings are highly unsuitable. In such cases a CEO along with her or his team of three to four executives can travel anywhere within India and return home the same day.
Further, the most tiring part of air travel in case of multi city visits is the layover time at airports. When using business aircraft executives can practically move in and out of airports in less than 15 minutes each and can cover up to three cities in a single day. Business aviation is an important tool that gives busy executives the ability to remain “close to the customer” in a challenging business environment and reduces waste by saving thousands of hours of non-productive travel time.
According to 2017 NBAA report business aviation contributed to enterprise values of the best managed companies in USA.
Thus the convenience offered by private air travel has a large positive impact on the morale and productivity of the executives and is a justified use of corporate resources.
2. TIME SAVING
For corporate executives, time is the most essential factor and hence it becomes a stressful situation during air travel when airlines get delayed or executives get stuck in traffic and are anxious of missing their flights. Secondly, although the airport capacities have increased, the passenger traffic has increased faster and almost all airports are operating at their capacities. This increases check-in and security check times. At the minimum, travelers have to arrive at airport at least an hour prior to departure.
If the business traveler has a check-in bag and the departure and arrival are from large international terminals such as T2 at Mumbai or T3 at New Delhi, then it can substantially increase pre and post flight dwell times at the airport.
In private air travel, executives can arrive almost 15 minutes prior to departure, check in via a dedicated aviation terminal and their luggage can be loaded directly in the aircraft. In some cases, travelers can save almost 75% of the dwell time that they would spend at an airport. In addition, if the executives are late for some reason, the aircraft will wait.
Business aircraft are thus called as time machines as they free up significant amount of valuable executive time thus creating a stress free travel experience.
The value addition of this aspect is incomparable to those executives who like to make full productive use of their time on the aircraft. Most executives like to get their work done or discuss important client issues prior to their meeting at the destination city. Thus a team of three to four executives can sit in a club style seating arrangement in a business aircraft and can discuss sensitive project issues or have a full scale meeting in the privacy of their aircraft. This cannot be done in a commercial airline business class where other travelers can listen to their sensitive business communication or long haul first class compartment, where seats are often highly segregated and such discussions are often not possible.
Further, if an executive is traveling alone, it also provides a much needed ‘disconnected’ or ‘me’ time to think about larger business issues. According to a 2009 survey by the National Business Aviation Association, respondents rated themselves as 20% more productive while on company aircraft than in the office. Their counterparts flying commercial reported a 40% drop in productivity. Thus the privacy offered by business aircraft is much valued by corporate executives for the value it adds to their work.
The average cost per seat on a light jet is only slightly higher as compared to a business class fare of a commercial airline, but provides all the value associated with private air travel as mentioned above. In addition, executives can avoid overnight stay at hotels which not only saves corporate costs, but they are also able to return home to their families rather than spend a night at a hotel. In addition, executives can report to work next day and spend productive time in the office rather than spending time traveling on commercial airline the next day had they not used a private air service.
The cost per seat is significantly higher as compared to first class on commercial airlines when larger business jets are used. However, those that use such large jets are typically ones who fly international and require a sleeping berth so that they can go directly from the aircraft to a meeting straight from the airport without checking into a hotel first.
Economics could be a secondary consideration when safety and privacy of the passengers could be a concern. Top executives of Fortune India companies, politicians, movie stars and sports teams usually attract lot of attention of people and media and need to have a hassle free and secured way to travel, which is provided best by private air travel.
5. SEAMLESS EXPERIENCE
Finally, the key essence of business aviation is to have a hassle free and seamless travel experience, while indulging in a bit of luxury that is rightfully earned for assuming executive responsibilities. Few good quality air charter companies or in-house aviation companies managing company aircraft work hard to work out the minor details such as car drop to the airport, fast check-in, customized on-board catering according to passenger preferences, providing in-flight calls and/or wi-fi service, transfer to a helicopter, if required, and car pick up at the destination airport etc.
Such seamless travel experiences are not indulgences. Rather they are essential to executive travel and if carried out as one unified process with great attention to details, they significantly help executives to focus on matters which are of highest priority to the company while on business travel.
In summary, business aviation has become an essential business requirement. Hence the paradigm shift towards perceiving business aviation as a necessity and not as a luxury indulgence is a step forward in increasing executive productivity. I would love to hear any comments from you.
The author is Vice President – Sales at Arrow Aircraft