Executive Travel

  • Date:01 Oct 2007
  • Type:CompanyDirectorMagazine

David Bell details why demand for private jets has been soaring in recent years and what types of aircraft and support are available to high flying Australian businesses.

Jet ownership takes off

A robust economy, strong Australian dollar, the resources boom and changing perceptions about the utility of business aircraft have contributed to the rapid growth in the number of aircraft used for business purposes in Australia and for long range flights beyond our shores.

Business jets based in Australia have increased from 80 aircraft in 2004 to112 aircraft in September, 2007. That’s an increase of 40 per cent over three years.

Acceptance of business aircraft by the Australian corporate community is now a reality and further growth is assured with a record order backlog of almost 20 new aircraft anticipated by the end of 2007.

Business aircraft can be cost effective via outright purchase, lease finance, charter and the emergence of a ‘fractional’ product in Australia which in some circumstances enables the business aircraft to be an ‘off-balance sheet’ item but 100 per cent tax deductible.

The most successful companies around the world operate business aircraft. There are over 20,000 aircraft in the worldwide fleet.

Today’s fast-paced business environment enhances the value of aircraft as a business tool. Scheduling flexibility is a powerful asset. Customer meetings do not have to end because your flight is leaving – your flight will wait. The office environment aboard your business aircraft provides the opportunity to work with colleagues or customers in a private, secure environment, improving creativity, communication, productivity and company profits.

The recent accelerated growth of business aviation throughout Australia has been accompanied by an increase in activity of the Australian Business Aircraft Association (ABAA), which acts as a collective voice for the business aviation community in Australia and assists its members in all aviation matters.

The ABAA is one of 13 business aviation associations around the world and is a member of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), based in Montreal, Canada. The primary aim of the IBAC and all business aviation associations is to advocate safety, security and efficiency of business aviation.

Potential owners and operators of business aircraft have an excellent range of aircraft to choose from which are well supported in Australia. Entry level prop-jet aircraft such as the Pilatus PC12, Cessna Caravan and Beech King Air are particularly well suited to Australian outback conditions of unprepared airfields.

Small business jets, sometimes piloted by their owners have been popular with Australian entrepreneurs, corporations and charter companies for over 30 years. These include the Cessna Citation 500, 525, 550 and 560; Beech Premier and Beech 400A; Learjet 35 and 36; and Dassault Falcon 10.

Several manufacturers have recently developed even smaller business jets known as VLJs or very light jets. These include the Eclipse 500, the Cessna Mustang 510 (the first example arrived in Australia July 2007) and the soon to be certified Embraer Phenom from Brazil.

Mid-size business jets are well suited to Australia as they are often capable of flying longer distances across the continent, sometimes carrying eight or more passengers. Examples of some Australian registered aircraft in this broad category include the Cessna Citation 650, 680 and 750; Bombardier Learjet 45 and 60; Bombardier Challenger 604 and 605; Hawker 800XP and 850XP; and Dassault Falcon 2000.

Larger business jets are also available for extra long distance and intercontinental travel. Several Australian companies and the Federal Government operate aircraft in this category including Bombardier Global Express, Dassault Falcon 900, Gulfstream GIV/GV and Boeing BBJ.

The ABAA has held a Business Aviation Seminar each year since 2004 with this year’s event to be held at the Hyatt, Coolum, Queensland, on October 17. It is open to prospective business aircraft owners and operators.

David Bell is executive director of the Australian Business Aircraft Association Inc. abaadbell@optusnet.com.au