Wheels-up at 7:35 a.m. Right on schedule. As the plane climbs through 12,000 feet you settle back into your seat with a hot cup of coffee and review your itinerary for the day: The shareholders meeting begins at 9:00 a.m. in Denver, back on the plane at 11:30 a.m. for lunch with your executive committee while enroute to Arizona, then a 2 o’clock in Scottsdale with your largest customer. If everything goes well, you’ll be back on the plane by 4:30 p.m. and home in time to make your daughter’s first lacrosse game.
More and more businesses are taking advantage of the benefits offered by private aircraft charter services. Flexibility, security and unparalleled comfort, give your business the competitive edge and agility to propel you on top…or to just keep you there. In this age of corporate belt tightening, you work hard to squeeze every last bit of productivity out of yourself, your employees and your travel budget. Here are eight ways to make sure you are getting your money’s worth out of your air charter.
1. Fill Up The Plane
The average midsize private/corporate jet holds eight passengers. Half of those seats fly empty on most chartered flights. When chartering, you pay for the whole plane. You might as well fill up those seats and reduce your per passenger trip costs. Consider taking an additional person or two to your meeting. Maybe take your sales manager along to scout out some prospective clients while you are in a different city for the day. You can even bring your spouse or child along to enjoy a day-trip out of town.
Example: One of our customers, a local construction company, ended up winning a large building contract because they flew their entire production management team to the meeting with the potential customer. Said their CEO, “For every question or concern that the customer had, we had the right person at the meeting to address it. We never would have taken that many people if we didn’t have our own plane. That plane is the reason we got the bid”.
2. Maximize In-Flight Productivity
Make the most of your time while in the air. Most private aircraft have adjustable seating. Turn your seats around in a club configuration and hold a meeting. (A meeting with a view, as I like to call it.) Better yet, order some catering and eat some lunch while you solve world peace. Catering doesn’t have to be a big, fancy thing. A simple box lunch or even a pizza can be just the ticket. Sometimes the best use of your time enroute will be to stretch out on the couch and catch a few Z’s. When you step off that plane, you will be refreshed and ready to tackle any issue that arises.
3. Pre-arrange Ground Transportation
Be sure to reserve your rental cars prior to departure. Many times you can request to have your vehicle delivered to your destination FBO (Fixed Base Operator) – or even pulled up to your plane when you land. This little convenience can be a huge time saver. Step off the plane, sign the rental agreement, and you are out of there!
4. Book One-day Trips
If at all possible, limit your travel to one day. Not only will you save money on overnight aircraft and pilot charges, you can also save hundreds, if not thousands, by avoiding extra car rental days, hotel rooms, meals, etc.
Note: Be sure to check with your charter operator to make sure your travel day will comply with pilot duty regulations. The FAA requires your pilots to have sufficient rest between flights.
5. Multiple Legs
One of the great conveniences of private air travel is the ability to hit several stops all in one day. It would be virtually impossible to accomplish this feat with the airlines, but with charter, almost anything is possible. It is not uncommon to have our customers hit three or even four destinations, all in one day. No need to spend all week out on the road. Schedule multiple stops on your next trip and spend the rest of the week in your own office.
6. Remote Destinations
There are about 500 airports across the United States that are served by commercial airlines. In addition to these, there are approximately 4,500 smaller airports dotted across the country which private, or general aviation (GA), aircraft have access to. If your destination is a small town or suburb with a population more than a few thousand, chances are, they have an airport where you can land. Need to go to Columbus, Nebraska? No need to fly to Omaha and then drive for another hour and forty minutes. Fly straight to Columbus!
7. Airport Meetings
Want to save even more time while traveling? Hold your next meeting at the airport! Check with the FBO at your destination and see if they have a conference room that you can schedule for an hour or two. Sometimes there is a nominal fee for this amenity, but usually it’s free. No need for rental cars, driving directions or filling the car up before your return. Once you are done with your meeting, jump back on the plane and you’re off to your next destination.
8. Combination of the Above
Want to realize some serious productivity? Employ several of the above ideas for your next business trip. With a little forethought, private aircraft charter can be a highly effective business tool.
By Richard G. Winwood, © November, 2010 Mr. Winwood has worked for Keystone Aviation since 1998.
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