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Preying on Airline Woes

Bizav is getting more than a second glance from the corporate world.


October 2, 2007
By Rob Seaman

Topics

149-preyTime is the coinage of the realm. Regardless who said it first;
corporate aviation has claimed ownership of the phrase when introducing
the concept of bizav to hesitant first time users. "Convincing my
colleagues in business to try a corporate jet was no small task. But we
usually found that once they did they were sold," recalls Wynne Powell,
president of Vancouver-based London Air Service. "We have shown them
efficiencies in the use of time and expedited travel to a level of
service and convenience that earns us high praise and repeat business."
So much so that London Air, which operates two Bombardier Lear 45s and
Challenger 604s, purchased its second Challenger aircraft three years
ahead of the original business plan.

London
Air was established four years ago to meet the needs of the BC business
community. The fact that it has grown through a soft provincial
economy, particularly in the resources sector, demonstrates the real
growth potential of corporate aviation. Powell reports that both 604s
have been clocking flying time in the Pacific Rim markets with the
current concern over SARS and airline disorder definitely being a
contributing factor.

Certainly the traditional full-service
airline has been conditioning the premium and frequent travel market to
seek alternatives by offering a product as stale as a bag of old
pretzels. Reduced or dropped routes added time for airport screening
and airplane changes (often hundreds of kilometres in the opposite
direction of an intended destination) have made the one-day business
trip a thing of the past. Especially on distances greater than two
hours flying time. Add to this a lack of consumer confidence in the
airline industry and it is not difficult to see why commercial travel
is fast losing its appeal among corporate flyers. For some flights, the
cost of corporate charter is as much a selling point as convenience
says Rob McKenzie, chief pilot of LCE Aviation at Buttonville Airport.
“Our biggest pitch to corporate clients is when you have five people
flying between Toronto and Quebec City at $1,300 a ticket, then we are
competing head-to-head with an airline. That makes sense for them.”

Corporate
aviation has survived the current economic challenge far better than
its commercial cousins. “Our first-time inquiries are well up over past
years and the amount of repeat business is impressive in itself.We have
also found that simple word of mouth has been a great contributor to
our recent success,” says Chuck Montgomery, president of Corporate
AirLink in Mississauga.