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Leading Edge: It’s all in the numbers

As a longtime baseball junkie, I’ve been fascinated by how statistics legitimize and evaluate values of pretty much everything under the sun – numbers to size up specific players, the value of organizations, even how the media shapes its coverage around what “nuggets” of information it chooses to highlight or ignore – often the former.


September 16, 2016
By Matt Nicholls

And we’re talking everything here: hits in night games; strikes under the lights; batting average against lefthanders on the road; heck, even a pitcher’s success rate when he eats chicken the night before the game. You get the idea.

In terms of business aviation in Canada, the numbers game has never really been a critical part of the industry’s mandate, and frankly, the lack of data – and the polite Canadian demeanour of many organizations to play down the importance of corporate flight departments – has hurt this key industry segment. It’s difficult to justify one’s existence to various levels of government when competing with other key players – i.e. the commercial aviation segment for instance – when you just don’t have the ammunition. This has been an ongoing challenge for the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA), but now, there’s a ray of hope: the association has legitimate numerical data to justify the scope of what the Canadian business aviation industry is all about.

The association’s recently released 2016 Economic Impact of Business Aviation in Canada is an important study that measures the importance of Canadian BizAv. The numbers tell the story: $5.1 billion in GDP, $730 million in taxes, and a significant player in generating jobs and taxes nationwide. According to the report, one corporate jet in Canada generates 12.4 jobs, $820,000 in wages and $2.9 million economic outputs every year.

The CBAA also has 13 case studies in tow that demonstrate the real-world value of business aviation and how companies across Canada are using business aircraft as concrete corporate tools, showing how it can be used as catalyst for growth. It’s important data for sure and as CBAA president Rudy Toering notes it gives thought leaders and policy makers something concrete to chew on.

“Right now we are being threatened by new taxation rules that are already causing people to delay or cancel aircraft purchases,” Toering says. “We can demonstrate that this could lead to a loss of almost 13 jobs and more than $800,000 in wages for every aircraft that ceases operation. Since business aircraft operate out of every province and territory, the government is putting high-wage employment at risk everywhere.”

While the raw data is a critical step for the CBAA in determining the scope of business aviation in Canada, promoting it and getting it in the face of government officials is equally important. On this point, CBAA members are actively sharing the data with officials at all levels to help educate and inform.

“The study has been a game-changer: I find politicians and bureaucrats are much more receptive and are taking our issues far more seriously than they have in the past,” Toering shared at the recent Wings/CBAA roundtable in Calgary (see “Making quantifiable gains,” pg 28). “We will have a full French and English version of the study for the first time. We are also sending the study to every MP in Canada; there will be a very wide distribution. We are also meeting with the NBAA and IBAC to work together to help create a strategy of how to use the information and enable members to proudly talk about the role of BizAv.”

These are all great initiatives that effectively illustrate how the numbers game can help legitimize and drive economic growth – a home run for BizAv indeed.