In the past few months I’ve noticed an increase in the number of one-sided protests regarding business aviation that seem to have the objective of painting private jets as evil mass polluters. Over 100 climate protestors managed to reach the aircraft static display at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) held in Geneva, Switzerland. They ripped down and scaled fences, attached themselves to aircraft, and demanded the banning of private jets before being removed by police. The Geneva airport closed their runway due to safety and security concerns, forcing aircraft to divert to Zurich and Lyon, burning unnecessary fuel. One of the activists told a reporter for Corporate Jet Investor that private jets are not something that should exist in this type of climate crisis. So, should they ban private jets all together?
These protests neglect to discuss the benefits of business aviation and fail to recognize that business aviation is an essential industry that contributes to the viability of mid-sized companies and large corporations. Let’s say we ban business aviation. It wouldn’t take long for everyone to see how their inward investment is reduced, how jobs migrate overseas, unemployment rises and their GDP falls. That may wake governments up to the reality of the situation.
According to a report by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), business aviation supports more than a million jobs (374,000 in Europe), generates nearly $250 billion in economic activity worldwide, provides flights for humanitarian causes, and connects towns and communities without commercial airline support. Duncan Aviation alone employs 2,600 team members and generates millions of dollars per year in our local communities.
The theme of these protests is the affect private jets have on the environment. Aviation as a whole accounts for 2% of global C02 emissions, and business aviation accounts for 2% of that. Simply put, business aviation contributes 0.04% of global emissions.
According to the EBACE website, EBACE 2023 was perhaps the most sustainable show ever. Carbon emissions from attendee travel to and from the show, and from the 22 hotels and shuttles used were offset by carbon credits provided through a partnership with 4AIR, the first and only sustainability solutions program dedicated to aviation. Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) was heavily promoted, and a record number of exhibitors signed the EBACE Exhibitor Sustainability Pledge.
Let’s say business aviation was banned. Would it really make that much of an impact to the environment? Let’s take it a step further. What would the world look like without business aviation?
Business aviation allows for safe, efficient, and discreet travel for high-profile individuals, access to communities with little or no airline service, increase in employee productivity, life-saving medevac flights, and humanitarian flights.
Business aviation is so successful because it is the only way for busy professionals to buy time. The aircraft can be accommodated by many more airports than the ones that commercial aircraft can reach. Business aviation connects 1,400 European airports, of which 900 are connected by business aviation only. So, users fly from airports that are closer to home, to airports that are closer to their final destination. In doing so, they gain time and are therefore able to be more productive, undertake more meetings, and generate more growth for their companies. This directly leads to more income, more jobs and more taxes paid. Business aircraft also save companies thousands of dollars by allowing employees to make a trip that involves stops at several airports and locations, returning home the same day. Most of the time, the passengers that fly on these trips are technicians, mid-level managers, and customers, not C-suite executives and owners.
Innovation is engrained in most companies that use business aircraft, and it is certainly a staple within the companies that serve the industry. The business aviation community is mindful of the need to mitigate its impact on the environment, which is why business aviation leaders pledged to achieve net-zero C02 emissions by 2050. They have adapted innovative, cutting-edge technologies such as winglets, glass cockpits, more aerodynamic structures, and lighter materials that all contribute to a greater fuel efficiency. It’s also worth noting business aviation drives advancement in technology and operational efficiencies that benefit the aviation industry as a whole. Increasing the availability of sustainable aviation fuel is also a top priority for civil aviation worldwide.
When thinking about business aviation, critics oftentimes fail to consider that those aircraft are also used for medevac flights that transport patients from one location to another where they can receive the care they need. Or the air ambulance flights that move accident victims from rural areas to hospitals in order to quickly receive life-saving treatment. There are also a number of organizations that coordinate the use of business aircraft for humanitarian purposes. According to the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), business aviation operates 70 life-saving or medical flights per day on average.
It is important to understand the true definition of business aviation and the societal benefits and environmental leadership it offers before disparaging the entire industry.
About Duncan Aviation
Duncan Aviation was founded as an aircraft brokerage organization and has been working with jet and turboprop owners on the sale and acquisition of aviation assets for more than 65 years. They are the largest privately-owned business jet service provider in the world. To learn more about Duncan Aviation, and to interact with Tim Barber, follow this link: https://www.duncanaviation.aero/services/aircraft-sales/tim-barber