According to studies conducted by NEXA Advisors LLC, companies that use business aviation consistently outperform those that do not, whether publicly-traded major corporations or small or medium-sized businesses. These companies use business aviation strategically, as a corporate asset to drive higher revenues, greater profitability and improve efficiency. Most importantly for the future success of any company, users of business aviation are overwhelming seen as the cream of the crop – the most admired brands, the best places to work.
These statistics are very familiar to Rudy Toering, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA). Representing Canada’s $10.7 billion business aviation sector, the CBAA works to inform elected officials, regulators and Canadian business leaders that the use of business aviation is something that should be encouraged, not hindered or hidden.
“Since companies that use business aviation outperform those that don’t, it stands to reason that the government should create an environment that allows Canadian companies to take full advantage of the opportunities that business aviation provides. I know that many Canadian companies downplay how they use business aviation, but there is such a thing as too much modesty, in my view,” Toering says.
“The realty is that using business aviation as a corporate asset is no more indulgent than investing in technology to give your company an edge. It is the price of doing business, and doing it well. Our members don’t use business aviation as a glamourous perk. It’s far simpler. They use it to move people and equipment from point A to point B more efficiently and securely than their competitors.”
Economists call this the “catalytic effect” – using an asset like business aviation to facilitate success in other sectors, but, Toering is quick to point out that there is more to business aviation than its catalytic effects.
“Business aviation has a double halo. Not only does it have a direct impact on corporate success, it is also a major contributor to the economy in its own right. The province of Alberta is a beneficiary of a strong business aviation sector. There are 419 business aircraft based here – second only to Ontario. Our economic impact study shows that operating those Alberta-based aircraft results in 5,200 jobs, $3.44 million in wages, $586 million in GDP and $1.22 billion in economic output every year in total (direct and indirect) impacts. It’s a significant contribution to Alberta’s economy, over and above how these aircraft help Albertan businesses succeed.”
Toering added that it’s not just about corporate use. Business aircraft are uniquely suited to providing a first response to natural disasters and other crises because they can operate on short notice into outlying airports with small and sometimes unpaved runways, or even onto roads, that are inaccessible to airliners or automobiles. This was clearly evident in business aviation operators’ responses to the recent northern Alberta wildfires.
Despite everything that business aviation contributes to this country, and how much more it could contribute, there are still significant and unnecessary barriers to its growth. The CBAA is working with its members in Alberta and other parts of the country to push back on issues that range from inappropriate crew fatigue rules for ad-hoc charters, incorrect interpretations and applications of the federal tax code, airport access, taxes on aviation fuel, the cost of carbon schemes and more.
Toering believes a solution is educating political and business leaders. “We are constantly lobbying for a better environment for business aviation, and I think that our economic impact study will help to open doors and increase understanding. It’s been widely distributed to MPs and senators, federal, provincial and territorial governments, and to the business community, and we are getting a strong response. It’s a step at a time, but working with our members and colleagues in Alberta and across Canada, I strongly believe that we can achieve a great deal more for business aviation.”
More than just a pretty plane: the catalytic impacts of business aviation
Catalytic impacts refer to business aviation’s role in facilitating the effective business of other sectors of the economy. The impacts can include:
Trade. Business aviation connects businesses to a wide range of global markets, providing a significantly larger customer base for their products than would be accessible otherwise.
Investment. A key factor many companies take into account when making decisions about the location of offices, manufacturing plants or warehouses is proximity to an airport.
Productivity. Business aviation helps companies get their employees to multiple destinations in a single day and still get home at night, preserving some work-life balance while increasing productivity.
Sustaining Small Communities and Regional Economies. This not only enhances businesses’ overall supply chain productivity, but also enables and sustains economic activity at small and remote communities.