2008 Press Releases

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NBAA Rejects Claims About Business Aviation in Group's Press Release

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or dhubbard@nbaa.org

WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2008 – The National Business Aviation Association today renounced the unsubstantiated inference, made in a recent press release by a transportation consultancy, that business aviation drives trends in first-class airline travel.

The press release, issued by the Stanford Transportation Group (STG), bases its claims on a "study," although its author has yet to make available to NBAA any documentation beyond the press release itself. This is in spite of the fact that STG's release claims its conclusions were reached partially through the use of "NBAA data."

"NBAA can't be completely sure what STG's 'study' contains, because the author has been unable to provide anything beyond a press release about his views," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "That alone should raise serious doubts about the credibility of the claims STG makes.

"But of equal concern, it appears from the press release that the study's author completely overlooks well-known factors impacting first-class airline travel – factors that have nothing to do with business aviation." NBAA's concerns, outlined in a June 19 e-mail to the study's author, included the following:
  • The press release fails to consider how first-class passenger counts are impacted by the rise of discount carriers, and airlines' increasing use of regional jets and discount subsidiaries (e.g. United's Ted) that do not have first-class sections. Without a first-class cabin, the option of purchasing a first-class ticket becomes unavailable. Although these trends would undoubtedly impact first-class passenger counts, STG's press release does not consider them.

  • The press release never considers the increasing influence of loyalty programs, designed by the airlines themselves, which promote alternative purchasing decisions for first-class travel. Competition among airline loyalty programs, has led the carriers to offer companies and individual consumers the opportunity to purchase a regular ticket, then receive an upgrade to first class at little or no cost. But, the passenger sample cited in the release only counts first-class passengers as those who purchase first-class tickets in the traditional manner.

  • The press release ignores the increasing use of technology to reduce travel requirements. Some consumers who are no longer flying first class may not be flying at all because of alternatives to first-class airline travel, including teleconferencing, video conferencing and online communications. Yet, STG's press release overlooks these options.

"It's also clear that the group does not understand business aviation realities," Bolen continued. He noted that STG's press release incorrectly assumes that the proper way to measure business aviation activity is by considering the size of the aircraft fleet. "The true measure of business aviation activity in the United States is the annual number hours flown, not the number of airplanes parked at airports around the country," said Bolen. "Tying the number of business aircraft to actual business aviation flying is akin to assuming the airlines must be doing well because some of the manufacturers who supply the industry are having their strongest sales in years.

"Instead of taking these and several other important factors into account, STG's 'study-by-press-release' infers a cause-and-effect relationship that doesn't exist, and only provides fodder for the airlines' Washington lobbyists to try once again to blame the airlines' economic woes on general aviation."

A copy of the NBAA's June 19 letter to STG can be found at http://web.nbaa.org/public/news/letters/STG20080619.php.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 8,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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