Business Aviation or Private Aviation: What is in a term and does it really matter?

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What’s the difference between business aviation & private jet travel?

A thought piece…

For many of our customers and for those outside the industry, ‘private jets’ and ‘private jet’ travel are the most commonly used reference — inside our industry we more often use the term ‘business jet’ & ‘business aviation’.

So what do we really mean when we use such terms?

Moreover, there are other terms that are used more-or-less interchangeably too, including corporate jets, corporate aviation, general aviation, private aviation et al.

To confuse the public even further, we also have the sub-categories within our industry, such as private ownership, charter, fractional ownership, empty legs, seat sharing and shuttles.

The question is: How should we describe ourselves as an industry & what terms should we use?

Well, one might ask if it really matters, it’s only a nomenclature.

Well, here goes. Yes, it does matter. It saves customer embarrassment. It saves confusion in communication.

Moreover, unclear terminology doesn’t help one of our industry’s main challenges: A lack of understanding about what we offer, and how we offer it. And that is all about marketing and perception.

The term ‘Business Aviation’ is easily confused by many with business class airline travel.

Using the term business aviation also implies that the majority of private jet customers are flying for business reasons, when especially within Europe that is simply not the case.

Why do we use the term ‘business aviation’?

The term business aviation was created within our industry and then widely adopted to provide private aviation with value, and thus to underline the value of private aviation as an efficiency tool, thus avoiding using the term ‘private jet’.

Private Jets are associated in most minds as luxury, privilege, excess and select, and that in marketing the ‘business jet’ many in the industry have tried to get away from this image of pure luxury, especially into today’s modern world where sustainability, geopolitics, and a further widening separation between those with wealth and those that ‘have not’.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has not helped matters either; particularly the global story of wealthy billionaires or oligarchs and their jets and superyachts.

A new era?

Covid underlined the value that many place on private aviation, as well as the efficiency benefits of private aviation — whether for business, corporate or private time use.

The vision of two to eight people sat in privacy, in leather or plush Alcantara seats, not having to face airport queues, yet emitting what many see as similar pollution as a commercial jet flying 150+ to Mallorca.

Yet we have to underline and market the transitions we are making in our industry — the value and place that private aviation has in the world — why can’t we become the F1 of the aviation world, pushing technology that finds its way to commercial jets, and underlining the value that it brings to business and developing the world — along with owners that make their aircraft available for medical evacuations, or even chartering is greener in a way than each person that wants to use a private jet having an aircraft of their own.

The debate and industry challenges will continue — the term ‘business aviation’ isn’t going away any time soon. There is a need for the industry to clarify what we offer – and to become transparent about it. Hiding away will not help us, being open and demonstrating how we add value will.

Thank you for reading!

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