Written and Produced by
"We’re working harder than ever to develop new business," says Ron Fagen, president and CEO of Fagen, Inc., a heavy industrial contractor based in Granite Falls, Minn. That’s tough when you’re a three-hour drive to the nearest airline gate and your top clients are in remote locations like Nacogdoches, Texas, Jerome, Idaho, and Clearfield, Pa. Fagen’s solution: two Cessna Citation jets based ten minutes away at the local airfield. "During the downturn, we’re flying as hard as we ever have just to get business in the door," he says. "Our volume is down, but we’re relying on our airplanes to keep us in front of customers."
The Ultimate Productivity Tool
More than 10,000 companies in the U.S. operate 18,000-plus turbine-powered aircraft. Of these companies, 85% are small to midsize firms that prove the value of a business aircraft on a daily basis, says Ed Bolen, president of the National Business Aviation Association, an industry trade group representing more than 8,000 members that operate business aircraft.
While some people view business jets as an unnecessary luxury, Bolen quashes that misconception by underscoring that the majority of business travelers aboard these aircraft are from mid-level corporate ranks, and the value of their time far exceeds the cost of transportation. "This isn’t extravagance," he says. "This is vital, time-saving efficiency that improves a company’s bottom line."
It’s not only busy schedules that drive the growth of business aviation; it’s revenue and profit. In a 2009 study of S&P 500 companies conducted by Virginia-based consulting firm NEXA Advisors, LLC, companies that used business aircraft had twice the total shareholder return, and annual earnings growth was five times higher than that of companies that did not. Small wonder. Business aircraft can access some 5,000 airports across the country, while commercial airlines serve barely 10% of that number. And, given the dividends, it’s surprisingly affordable.
The Enlightened Business Traveler is your ticket to this new world of opportunity. It examines the wide range of aircraft and new technologies. It highlights access options that open the skies to businesses of all sizes. And it illustrates how businesses and entrepreneurs with varied travel requirements are strategically employing business aircraft to meet today’s challenges and create tomorrow’s opportunities. But, most important, it discusses the ease with which you too can create time.
FLIGHT LOG >> Thrane & Thrane.
Based in Lyngby, Denmark, Thrane & Thrane is a leader in developing and manufacturing satellite communications equipment and giant earth station antennas linking end users on land, sea and air around the world.
While the company is immersed in cutting-edge technology, Co-Founder Lars Thrane prefers meeting clients the traditional way: face-to-face. With facilities in northern Denmark and clients throughout Europe, his Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200 GT gives him unsurpassed agility. "You have the freedom to operate on your own schedule," he says. "That’s a necessary part of our business. I can tell customers we’ll be there in a few hours, load the King Air with people, luggage, cargo and fuel, and go," he says. "It’s productivity and it’s convenience."
Although slower than a jet, the King Air manages the short distances across Europe with minimal time difference and about half the fuel, says Thrane. The powerful twin turboprop is also adept at negotiating small alpine airports that many jets cannot. "That efficiency and flexibility is an essential factor in our success," he adds.
“You have the freedom to operate on your own schedule. That’s a necessary part of our business.”
Lars Thrane, Co-Founder, Thrane & Thrane
If a business jet opens up the world, the business aircraft cabin opens up a world of possibilities. Working in a secure, comfortable environment at 50,000 feet and 500 miles per hour, today’s travelers can be as productive aloft as they can on earth, says Kent Statler, executive vice president and COO of Commercial Systems for Rockwell Collins.
Using Rockwell Collins’ latest technology, you can remain in constant wireless contact through a networked cabin system where laptops and cell phones link seamlessly and securely to anyone on earth, says Statler. Need the latest news, weather, sports or financial reports? Rockwell Collins brings it to you live. Watch presentations on large-screen displays; surf the Web via high-speed Internet; connect iPods and iPads; and even watch live TV—all brought to you via a flexible, intelligent architecture designed for easy compatibility with future-generation electronics.
FLIGHT LOG >> Cat Aviation
Two decades ago, entrepreneur and former stockbroker Helene Niedhart launched Cat Aviation in Zurich to assist clients challenged by cumbersome European airline schedules. According to Niedhart, her unabated success providing cost-effective global travel is largely attributable to her fleet of Dassault Falcon jets, including the Falcon 2000EX, the long-range Falcon 900EX and the latest ultra-long-range tri-jet Falcon 7X.
"Our clients are exploring new opportunities and reaching out to developing markets," says Niedhart, explaining that Cat Aviation’s globe-spanning tri-jet Falcon 7X allows them to fly nonstop to Taiwan, Seoul or Beijing.
Not only are the Falcons fuel efficient and quiet, they are also adept with challenging runways like the short, noise-sensitive one in the heart of London's financial center. Taking off from London City, the Falcon 7X can fly nonstop to New York with up to eight passengers on board, she says. "It’s the only business aircraft that can do this, and it’s made an amazing difference for our clients. They can work until 5 p.m. in London and be in New York for dinner."
The spacious 7X provides an ideal working environment, easily sleeps six and incorporates the latest fly-by-wire technology. "This isn’t about luxury," Niedhart emphasizes. "It’s an indispensable tool my clients need to be productive, efficient—and even to have a bit more time for their family."
“This isn’t about luxury. It’s an indispensable tool my clients need to be
productive, efficient—and even to have a bit more time for their family.”
Helene Niedhart, Founder, Cat Aviation
On the flight deck, large-panel displays graphically depict all flight parameters and aircraft data. Photo-realistic 3-D daylight graphics combined with enhanced infrared technology enable pilots to "see" in the dark so that they can fly anywhere, even in the worst weather conditions, as if it were a crystal-clear day.
Rockwell Collins engineers are replicating those same flight-deck images on "head up displays" (HUD), creating a virtual reality overlaid on the pilot’s view through the windscreen. For pilots, this represents the ultimate in situational awareness. For the traveler, it means you’ll be able to land where you want, when you need to, with uncompromised safety.
Tomorrow’s dreams are today’s reality, and the benefits are remarkable: enhanced safety, security, efficiency, functionality, connectivity and—best of all—cost savings.
The Future Is Now
Rockwell Collins is making business aviation safer and more efficient through a number of innovations:
FLIGHT LOG >> Fagen, Inc.
Granite Falls, Minn., may appear remote, but local heavy industrial contractor Fagen Inc. is far from isolated. According to president and CEO Ron Fagen, two Cessna jets, located at an airport just ten minutes away, provide speedy access to plant construction sites in small communities throughout Texas, Idaho and the Eastern states. "We have to move around quickly," he says, and he and his staff do so with unparalleled efficiency in the company’s Cessna Citation CJ3 and XLS. "Most of our business is located in rural areas far from major hub airports. If we were dependent on flying the airlines, we sure wouldn’t get very much done," Fagen explains.
On any given day, the jets drop off operations, safety and engineering supervisors for frequent quality-control inspections, or transport prospective customers to industrial sites under construction. "Our Cessnas have been essential in winning new business," says Fagen. "We load them up at 6 a.m. and they usually return around 8 p.m. I can’t imagine operating without them. Every minute counts. We’re very efficient, and our aviation resources are a big part of that."
“Most of our business is located in rural areas far from major hub airports.
If we were dependent on flying the airlines, we sure wouldn't get very much done.”
Ron Fagen, President and CEO, Fagen, Inc.
Fractional ownership is based on a simple idea: Why buy an entire aircraft when you only need it part of the time?
For a fraction of the whole aircraft price, buyers can gain business aircraft benefits when they need them. Thousands of companies and individuals have done just that. Every management and operational detail is taken care of by professionals. Day or night, your plane is guaranteed, ready when you are at any of 5,000 airfields across the nation.
Fractional share buyers make a capital investment and gain ownership tax benefits. In addition, they pay monthly management fees plus a fixed per-flight-hour charge, but only for time spent aboard. Unlike charter, there are no repositioning or return flight charges.
Jet Cards, typically sold in 25- to 35-hour increments or equivalent dollar amounts, make this even easier. Although per-hour rates are higher than those for fractional ownership or charter, there’s no capital investment, monthly management fee or concern over asset value risk. Simply prepay for usage based on fixed hourly rates. Hours or dollars are deducted as you use them. When the card is "empty," you can refill it or walk away.
NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway company, created the fractional jet ownership industry more than two decades ago and remains the premier provider with the largest global operation, the widest range of aircraft, and industry-leading safety standards and service excellence.
"Even amid a global economic slowdown," says Adam Johnson, senior vice president, NetJets Inc., "we continue to see a steady influx of new buyers attracted by a wide range of benefits. These include having a global fleet of aircraft ready and waiting with as little as four hours’ notice and receiving safety standards that are the benchmark for our industry, all while providing world-class service for our owners."
Through the second quarter of 2010, NetJets reported a pre-tax profit, and the financial turnaround was accompanied by record-high customer satisfaction scores. NetJets U.S. owner demand for flights in the NetJets Europe program has increased 25% as compared to the first half of last year, further highlighting a growing interest in international travel.
NetJets continues to develop new opportunities that are relevant in the marketplace and that maximize value for owners. Earlier this year NetJets introduced a flexible leasing program and announced plans to retrofit more than 250 aircraft in the U.S. fleet with Aircell high-speed wireless Internet service. In addition, all aircraft delivered in the future will be Wi-Fi equipped. According to Johnson, "There has never been a better time to purchase a NetJets fractional share."
NetJets Fast Facts
FLIGHT LOG >> Lake Creek Capital LLC
When Jim Milgard founded Sun Valley, ID-based Lake Creek Capital, a private investment company specializing in acquisition, private equity and venture capital, he knew that a company airplane could be an enormous benefit. He only needed about 100 annual hours, however, so full ownership made little sense. He turned to NetJets and found that a share in a Cessna Citation X was the perfect solution.
"Investing in growing companies is difficult to accomplish from a destination resort like Sun Valley," says Milgard. "It would be impossible to work and raise my two kids here without NetJets. Now I have the quality of life I want and I’m still able take advantage of quickly emerging opportunities. To have the plane ready within a few hours, fly to Seattle, meet with investors, turn around and come back is absolute magic. Commercially, it’s a whole day. I can’t afford the time." With the extra time, Milgard has taken his investment interests nationwide. "It makes a very big difference," he says. "NetJets makes every trip extraordinary. It’s priceless."
“To have the plane ready within a few hours, fly to Seattle, meet with
investors, turn around and come back is absolute magic.”
Jim Milgard, Founder, Lake Creek Capital
CitationAir™, owned by Cessna Aircraft Company, recently evolved from having a predominantly fractional ownership business model to one that offers a comprehensive range of versatile options, including: Jet Shares fractional ownership, Jet Cards, Jet Management, Corporate Solutions and, most recently, a new strategic alliance with British Airways. Called PrivateConnect™, the service allows British Airways fliers access to pay-per-hour business jet benefits once they land in the U.S. The new adaptations at CitationAir have captured the attention of business and personal travelers seeking affordable solutions, and Woody Harford, senior vice president and CRO, reports that 2010 demand is up 15% to 20% to date over 2009 figures.
CitationAir’s Jet Card now comes in two varieties: The standard option offers guaranteed access to a specific aircraft model of choice, and the Fleet Jet Card option, available at slightly higher rates, offers guaranteed access to any of three fleet models at any time. Both options allow you to fly 365 days a year.
Introduced in 2007, the increasingly popular turnkey Jet Management product, which takes care of all ownership responsibilities, proves to be a bonus to new Cessna Citation whole aircraft buyers. "You get all the benefits of owning an aircraft with none of the headaches," says Harford. Jet Management customers have access to the entire CitationAir fleet when trip demands suggest an alternative aircraft, and they accrue revenue when their plane is used by other CitationAir owners.
CitationAir Fractional Ownership: Fast Facts
FLIGHT LOG >> Retired Real Estate Developer
Retired East Coast real estate developer Jack Griffin has a home in Naples, Fla., a son in Puerto Rico and a daughter in Mérida, Mexico. Fortunately, he also has a fractional share in a CitationAir Cessna CJ3, which allows him to visit either of his children in under two hours. Commercially, he says, "it takes a full day just to get to Puerto Rico."
Griffin wanted an economical smaller plane that would carry four to six people. "I started with the Jet Card just to see if it worked," he says. He liked it so much he converted to fractional ownership. "It’s been an invaluable investment: The time savings, convenience and absolute flexibility are unbeatable," he remarks.
"As health issues developed, I could access the medical care I needed and still enjoy Naples. A commercial airline flight would have made that difficult. When I want to be in Puerto Rico with my son and grandchildren, I have the flexibility and freedom to go when I want to. And if I want to go for just one day, I can. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s an extraordinary opportunity to spend precious time with loved ones," he says. "There is no excuse for not doing what you want to anymore."
“Sure, it's expensive, but it's an extraordinary opportunity to spend precious time
with loved ones. There is no excuse for not doing what you want to anymore.”
Jack Griffin, Retired Real Estate Developer
Avantair, exclusive provider of fractional shares in the futuristic-looking Piaggio Avanti, is climbing to new heights with a plane that’s big on performance and small on price. Offering one of the lowest entry costs to business aircraft benefits, Avantair makes fractional ownership practical. "It’s a combination of efficiency and value that’s hard to beat," says one owner.
The Avanti is only part of Avantair’s success formula. The company’s steadfast focus on safety and service draws high praise from owners, as does the single-price monthly billing plan, which Avantair pioneered. Designed to simplify budgeting, the plan combines management fees and flight-hour charges into a predictable monthly bill.
Avantair’s top-selling Edge Time Card makes Avantair benefits even easier to acquire. The single-payment Edge Card provides airtime in 15- or 25-hour increments. Axis Club Membership offers an even more economical option: With an initial membership fee, buyers can purchase from three to six 25-hour Edge Time Cards over a three-year period at a considerably reduced cost. Additional membership levels allow for larger card purchases and even greater savings.
Avantair's Piaggio Avanti: Four-Star Comfort—Without the Four-Star Price Tag
FLIGHT LOG >> Robb and Robb
"When you have to be in court, you can’t do it by phone," says Gary Robb, who, along with his wife, Anita, runs Kansas City, Mo.-based litigation firm Robb and Robb. Those court appearances can take them anywhere. "We had cases in Hendersonville, Tenn., and Murray, Ky., that would have been a three-day trip commercially, but we were in and out in a day. As lawyers, we have no product other than our time," says Anita. Avantair allows them to use it more effectively. "We credit Avantair for much of our productivity and efficiency," she notes.
Time aloft is particularly valuable, he adds. "You have an hour or two to discuss a case with lawyers or expert witnesses face-to-face with total focus and absolute confidentiality." Anita agrees: "In the quiet cabin, you can really relax and concentrate. I feel energized and refreshed. It makes a huge difference professionally."
Avantair’s predictable monthly billing, which simplifies budgeting, is a big bonus for the Robbs, but there’s another incalculable benefit, says Gary: "I just don’t know how you put a value on spending more time with your family and children—time that you would not otherwise have."
“In the quiet cabin, you can really relax and concentrate.
I feel energized and refreshed. It makes a huge difference professionally.”
Anita Robb, Co-Founder, Robb and Robb
Well known for its fractional ownership program, Flexjet, part of the giant Bombardier Aerospace portfolio of companies, offers a wealth of custom-configured options, from whole- aircraft management to fractional ownership to jet cards and charter. This flexible, multifaceted approach remains the hallmark of Flexjet’s success.
Fractional shares are available exclusively in Bombardier jets, including the Learjet 40XR, 45XR, 60 XR; the super-midsize Challenger 300; and the intercontinental-range Challenger 605. Flexjet’s appeal also has much to do with its innovative programs. These include:
Flexjet 25 Jet Card
Simply need on-demand charter? Flexjet On-Demand Charter Brokerage in the U.S., through its affiliation with a select group of the nation’s top charter operators, can arrange on-demand retail charter that operates to Flexjet’s and the industry’s toughest safety and performance standards.
Through an exclusive alliance with Korean Air, Flexjet owners gain the advantages of a variety of the airline’s premium travel services, and as part of newly created Flexjet Connect™, operated by Jet Solutions, Korean Air passengers have guaranteed access to a fleet of Bombardier jets with as little as 24 hours’ notice.
FLIGHT LOG >> Lydia Security Monitoring, Inc.
Ira Riklis, CEO of New Jersey-based Lydia Security Monitoring, sampled a Flex 25 Jet Card three years ago. He liked it so much, he traded up to a Flexjet fractional share in a Learjet 40. His company plane has become the cornerstone of his business philosophy and growth strategy. "Managing is about dealing with limited resources," Riklis said in a recent New York Times interview. "I don’t want to hear again about how we saved a thousand dollars on an airfare when we lost two senior executives for two days," Riklis stresses. "It’s not just the time factor either. Don’t underestimate wear and tear. When people get worn out and tired, they just can’t give you the best they’ve got."
"No single plane does everything well," says Riklis, but with Flexjet, he always has the right tool for the job. When trip requirements demand it, he takes a larger Learjet or Challenger, and with Versatility Plus, he fine-tunes his hour commitment by selling unused hours or buying more as needed.
“Don't underestimate wear and tear. When people get worn out and tired,
they just can't give you the best they've got.”
Ira Riklis, CEO, Lydia Security Monitoring
Renowned Japanese auto manufacturer Honda is set to take to the airways later this year as production flight testing begins on the all-new HondaJet. First deliveries are anticipated in 2013. While this new advanced light jet will compete in the affordable entry-level category, its performance promises a great deal more. The unconventionally designed HondaJet already has attracted more than 100 orders.
Small and midsize companies seeking to improve their efficiency are captivated by HondaJet’s allure, as are companies with much larger aircraft wishing to operate shorter flights carrying fewer passengers more economically, says HondaJet Vice President of Marketing Stephen Keeney.
Everything about this jet is new. It will incorporate Garmin’s next-generation flight-deck technology, including three large panoramic flight-data displays that can show 3-D virtual-reality images of the outside world. Powered by newly developed GE-Honda engines and an all-composite airframe, which translates into significant weight savings, the new jet promises remarkable fuel efficiency and low operating costs.
Honda engineers—experts in design for comfort, efficiency, safety and productivity in small spaces—crafted the jet’s cabin. The result is superior functionality. The spacious cabin offers a fully enclosed lavatory and an in-flight entertainment system with ceiling-mounted touchscreen monitors that deploy, enabling passengers to control climate, audio-visual devices and cabin communications. High-speed Internet and satellite communications are slated as well.
HondaJet Fast Facts
Thousands of companies and entrepreneurs worldwide have learned the secret of creating time, and the trend is paying big dividends. Even small companies are finding that a business aircraft can help them gain a big advantage in edging out the competition.
"Having the plane is not a convenience, it’s a necessity," says the president of a Florida-based clothing retailer. An East Coast building materials supplier agrees: "These business aircraft are not an option. They give us mobility. You have to be where the action is. You have to respond to new opportunities."
The chairman of a Southeast-based hotel group finds his company plane to be a winner in every way: "It is one of the most effective business tools available today. I can work on my own schedule and not around an airline’s, and it gives me quality working time both in the air and on the ground. It really makes life easier."
Around the world, companies with their own business aircraft are traveling when and where they want with speed, schedule agility, safety and security.
Isn’t it time that you, too, took a closer look?
Written and Produced by Mark Patiky - email@example.com | Principal Photography: Paul Bowen
Editor: Allison Lurker Rickert | Designer: Jon Prinsky
Forbes Custom is a custom publishing site that features
special advertising sections from Forbes magazine
as well as industry articles and videos from our partners.
The editors at Forbes were not involved in the creation of this content.
Site Developed by SmartMark Communications, LLC
© Forbes Magazine, All Rights Reserved