Flying Across America

Promoting General Aviation

General Aviation vs. Airlines - Car vs. Train

General Aviation is often perceived as a luxury for VIPs, top executives and rich yuppies. This negative image affects both business aviation and light aviation, two important parts of General Aviation. I reckon this perception comes from the high-level of service offered on board by some business jet operators. Some celebrities use to pose in business jets, holding a cup of Champagne, most of time served by a sexy flight attendant. It’s true that such things exist in business aviation (not in light aviation) but it’s not the reason why business aviation became so popular.

The real difference between the services provided by General Aviation and airlines is the same as between car and train. Airlines operate at approximately 900 airports in the USA, General Aviation at approximately 12.000. Landing closer to destination is a great time saver. General aviation fly direct routes and thus don’t know the hassles of connecting flights and the associated lost luggage risks… Airlines fly on schedule, like trains do, while General Aviation fly on demand, like cars do. Have you ever tried to delay a train because of a longer than expected meeting ?

To catch a train, you have to go through the train station, get your ticket, find your platform, and so on… Starting a travel by car is much easier. Go to the parking lot, seat in the car, and go. General aviation offers the same kind of advantages over the airlines. Security checks are to the same level, but go much quicker through General Aviation terminals which are not crowded by thousands of other passengers all wanting to go through the same screening point at the same time.

It is certainly true that some business jet passengers decide to fly this way because of the extra comfort but most of them use this form of travel as a time saver. The sad part of this double image is that the “luxury” one took over the “time saver” one in the perception of most people. This creates an undue pressure over general aviation users. You don’t believe in that ?

Why do you think some large US companies use to have their own flight department ? These guys know how to earn money and maximize their profit. If they decided to operate business jets it’s because they know it makes the company more profitable, by saving time. But in the bad economy we’re experiencing right now, the media and public pressure on business aviation is so strong that some companies decided to stop using it. Not because of financial or economical reason. This decision actually reduced the company efficiency, but they had to do it as a public relation move.

Let’s hope that things like “electricity” or “building” will not be put under the same kind of pressure… People must understand that a business jet makes sense for a company, just like corporate cars, laptops, cell-phones.

One Response to “General Aviation vs. Airlines - Car vs. Train”

  1. Patrick Flannigan Says:

    And don’t forget about the impact GA has on freight because of the versatility offered by those 12,000 airports. There are hundreds of small freight operators, such as Flight Express and Star Check to name a few upon which much of the banking and donor organ infrastructure is dependent.

    Even FedEx contracts out to companies like Mountain Air Cargo to meet the demands of rural and suburban America by delivering overnight air freight via Cessna Caravans and ATR’s.

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