How Wealthy Passengers Choose To Fly: Part 2 – Safety
- Erika Armstrong
There is a tipping point. In that moment, when a passenger with a strong financial portfolio makes the decision to buy, charter, join a membership, or fraction of a corporate aircraft, there are factors to push that decision, and they aren’t always obvious. When a passenger has the power to captain how they travel, there is a hierarchy of needs that need to be met, but beyond that, the variables are every flight department's challenge.
With the competition of capitalism, there are now options within the circle of each set price range that drive decisions. In a recent Jet Traveler Report¹, it was determined that there are five basic characteristics of motivation that influence how wealthy passengers chose to fly and which method(s) of flying would best fit that perspective: time, control, safety, confidentiality, and value.
In part 1 of the series, we looked at time and control.
Now, let's take a look at safety.
The irony is that it is the "perception" of safety which is important to the passenger. ARG/US, IS-BAO, Wyvern, and SMS programs are required benchmarks for flight departments, but for the flier, aesthetics and age define safety. Old airplanes, worn out seats, and dirty carpets are representative of how an aircraft is maintained, despite what might be under the engine cowl. There is a variety of aviation knowledge in these passengers, but some of them come armed with information so they know what they're looking for. Business aviation has become extraordinarily safe and the safety culture is deeply ingrained within most flight departments, but it’s often difficult to prove that to a passenger.
Their Perspective Leads To This Choice: With the ability of fractional and membership operators to purchase or manage newer equipment, these flight departments win out, even over ownership. It can be a burden or surprise for aircraft owners trying to keep up with technology. ADS-B is a good example at the present time. Avionics departments are backlogged and most jet aircraft must be out of service for ~20 days for equipment installation.
Having a flight crew that the passengers like and continuously see also adds to the perception of safety and control, so many Part 135 departments try to assign requested crew; however, with pilot shortage and movement, it can be a difficult task. Having pilots that these fliers trust can be key to success. Hiring pilots who work well with C-Suite level clients is a must.
For every flight department, whether you are operating Part 91 or 135, it's important to remember that one passenger's request for Peach Snapple with seven ice cubes and a pickle is the next passenger's garbage. There are so many variables to their wants and needs that it's best not to guess. Ask, listen, and remember is the mantra to a success.
¹ The Jet Traveler Report 2018, "The Global Perspective on Who Flies Privately and How" (May 2018)