Cessna Goes On The Defensive

This isn’t a good time to be in the aviation industry. And not just commercial airlines. Corporate airplanes became a symbol of corporate excess and fatcat arrogance during the economic meltdown. So what are companies like Cessna to do? An ad campaign defending business aviation.

They have all sorts of helpful articles and statistics. Check out this tidbit on the front page:

Shame on those who suggest that business aviation is little more than a corporate frivolity. Focusing on facts over hyperbole, it’s glaringly apparent why you fly. Study after study shows companies operating business aircraft outperform competitors that don’t. It’s simply about availing yourself of the tools to do your job.

Well, yeah, or the companies that perform better are the ones who can afford corporate planes.

Rise to the Challenge [Cessna] (Thanks, Adam!)

(Photo: elsie) (This is Consumerist’s corporate plane.)

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  1. John Tyler says:

    This always strikes me as a double edged sword scenario…

    Consumers are quick to villify anyone with the lagress to buy something like, an aircraft, or a boat, in these trying times, but there is honestly no reason why companies shouldnt be able to afford to do this. (Not using bailout money, either.)

    Companies here the word “recession” and start laying off employees, to preserve profit. Employees, ie, consumers, no longer have money to spend. Not spending money hurts profit, and more employees get fired.

    Companies should be within their rights to spend money on airplanes, and to have success, provided that they arent screwing over workers because someone said the evil R word.

    • LegoMan322 says:

      @John Tyler:Yeah. I see the sword but it is already stab us on one side. So I also understand why this ad and flying is not too good right now.

      A bunch of people screwed up a lot for a small amount of smaller business that need to or should fly.

  2. supercereal says:

    A corporate plane isn’t necessarily wasteful. Heck, my company has two (not that I’ll ever get to use them…). There are definitely times when CEOs and the like have to jet all over the country quickly…and commercial airports aren’t the biggest time savers.

    But on a similar note, I recently got a free subscription to Forbes Magazine, and it’s just depressing to look at some of the ads in there: private jets, $85,000 (!!) watches, houses on private islands,… Maybe someday I’ll be part of their target audience :).

    • nybiker says:

      @supercereal: Wait until you get the next Forbes Life issue. If you think the ads in the regular Forbes magazine are way out there, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

      Yeah, I got a subscription when I had to use some of my frequent flyer miles or lose them.

    • unpolloloco says:

      @supercereal: I so want the jot….if only i had a job (still in school)

    • MsAnthropy says:

      @supercereal:

      My company has a couple too (apparently there used to be lots, and use of them was positively encouraged until relatively recently), and I agree, they’re not always necessarily wasteful. Anyone can “apply” to use the corporate jets – they have to fill out a form listing who’s traveling and where, and attach details of how much regular airfare would be for the same group to take the same trip, and it’s surprising (or was to me, anyway) how often you’ll be told that yep, that trip qualifies for use of one of the jets. That’s assuming, of course, that a higher-ranking bigwig doesn’t come along and trump your claim on the jet in the meantime. I’ve now given up on the jets, because on the couple of occasions I’ve had one reserved, the group I’ve reserved it for has been bumped off at the last minute in favor of More Important People. Leaving my poor colleagues scrambling to book last-minute seats with a regular airline for way more than they’d have cost had we just done that in the first place.

    • nova3930 says:

      @supercereal:

      Ironically enough, the biggest benefit of corporate aircraft comes to manufacturers. If your factory has an issue that needs correcting RTFN because it will screw up your “just in time” manufacturing operation costing you millions, you can put your engineers, techs and their equipment on a company plane and get them there and working a lot soon than with commerical airlines….

      • Firethorn says:

        @nova3930:the biggest benefit of corporate aircraft comes to manufacturers.

        I have to agree. And it ends up being a lot like any other company vehicle.

        One to four people to any given location? Probably best off with commercial tickets.
        5+ people to the same destination, a few times a year – charter a plane. Or if you have lots of ‘excess baggage’ like tools, equipment, and spare parts. Especially if it’s minor airport to minor airport where you’d be flying to one hub, to another hub, before finally going to the final destination. You can easily turn a 12 hour trip into a 4 hour one. Downtime or wage costs can easily justify the extra cost. 8-12 people and the seats can actually become cheaper than buying tickets.

        Doing this a couple times a month? Time to start looking into buying a plane. I’d fully expect an international huge corporation like GM to have a small fleet, and said fleet to be an economical decision.

  3. scoobydoo says:

    This was actually posted back in February:

    [consumerist.com]

    And I’m willing to bet that their little PR stunt has not worked too well for them…

  4. balthisar says:

    My company used to have several company planes. Thanks to some southern congressman, my company no longer has these planes (we’re a company NOT taking government money). Yeah, there were a couple of neat-looking Learjet-like things that I never got on, but the Fokker-100’s were a cost-effective way to move 48 people without wasting time. I got to travel on these many, many times (note: I’m not management level or above). Instead of arrive 10 minutes early for a 2 hour flight, it’s arrive two hours early, connect in Cincinnati, wait an hour there, arrive at the destination, wait for a shuttle to the rental car place. What used to be 3 hours of 48 people’s lives is now 7 hours for each of 48 people.

    • XTC46 says:

      @balthisar: “What used to be 3 hours of 48 people’s PAY is now 7 hours for each of 48 people.”

      There, I fixed it for you. This is why company aircraft ARE money savers many times. In the 2-3 hours each way that an executiveis in an airport, in a security line, etc, they can spend 1.5-2.5 of that at their desk working.

      If a CEO is making 1 million a year, they are making almost $500/hr (40 hour work week) so 4 hours of standing around, every time they need to fly adds up fast, and thats just his base salary. That doesnt take into account the profit he could bring in with the work he was doing (CEOs make mony, not break even so its war more than$500/hr loss)and they can get places when they need to, including smaller air ports that only have 1-2 commercial flights a day from a specific location.

      Start talking about flying 50 people around, and its HUGE savings when it needs to be done regularly.

  5. CasparDioge says:

    I am a private pilot. I use my plane to get around to business meetings and conferences, etc., that sometimes are not so easily accessible by the airlines. Not to mention the time savings and the ability to go in a moments notice.

    The congressional idiots seem to think that their grandstanding ensured executive responsibility by forcing the auto executives to drive to DC as supplicants, while they flew to the same hearings. It is a total waste of time to fly commercial anymore, what with the spoke and hub system, the irrational routings, the cancelled flights, as well as fee-free humiliiation that is doled out.

    Think I’m kidding? Try travelling from one small town to another 500 miles away. You’ll notice it takes an entire day or more, given the connections. In a small airplane … 3 hours max … do the deal and be home by nightfall, no drama, no hassle, no airline dreameed up fee hassle, no TSA made it up myself security rule. Just an fast, efficient way to travel and do business.

    Oh yes, my plane, carrying 3 people gets almost 20 miles to a gallon at 170 miles per hour as the crow flies.

    Cessna is right. Small planes ensure cheap, fast travel and generate a lot of business and business means jobs and a strong economy.

    Stop using the commerical carriers and really learn how to use small planes to boost your business.

  6. I Love New Jersey says:

    Company planes seem like a good idea in cases where time is money. If your company is based somewhere where there are limited flight options and are going to other places where the options are limited it is a good idea since thanks to the airlines hub and spoke system going from point A to point B involves going to points F, N, P, and sometimes Y.

  7. usa_gatekeeper says:

    How many Cessnas are in the “Air Force One” fleet?

    • XTC46 says:

      @usa_gatekeeper: The “air force one” fleet does not exist. The only air craft reseved for presidential use only are the 2 747s, others are common use by the executive (and probabaly other as well) branches and are maintained by the airforce. Even the 747s are used without the president sometimes.

      • HiPwr says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: Like flying them over NYC and scaring the shit out of the populus.

        • Andrew Norton says:

          @HiPwr: populus, no. Sheeple fed of an unending diet of tainted news and fake terrorist threats, yes.

          I blame fox news – since they sued to be allowed to flat-out lie about facts in ‘news reports’ (and WON) mainstream news is 90% crap and fear-mongering. oddly enough, that’s the definition of terrorism….

          • HiPwr says:

            @Andrew Norton: Yes, I’m sure that every one of New Yorkers with reactions ranging from alarm to terror were devout viewers of Fox News.

          • RogerTheAlien says:

            @Andrew Norton: Riiiiight, because CNN doesn’t do that at all, either. Yes, neither FoxNews nor CNN have agendas of their own that they’re trying to force onto viewers. /sarcasm/

            They’re both guilty of that. Now quit threadjacking with hyperbole and stay on topic.

      • WraithSama says:

        @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter:
        Actually, they’re still maintenanced by Boeing. I work across the street at Spirit Aerosystems and used to tempt at Boeing and was there when one of the Presidential 747s was flown in for regular maintenance. This was less than 2 years ago.

    • SharkD says:

      @usa_gatekeeper | @xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter:

      The 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB is responsible for Executive Transport.

      It currently operates:
      2x VC-25A (Boeing 747-200B)
      4x VC-32A (Boeing 757)
      4x VC-37A (Gulfstream V)
      2x VC-40B Clipper (Boeing 737-700 BBJ) (2 more ordered/building)

  8. WraithSama says:

    I live in Wichita, the Air Capital of the World, and Cessna has been laying off liberally. But then, so has every other aircraft manufacturerer in town except Spirit Aerosystems. My next door neighbor was axed at Cessna during the last round of layoffs.

    The thing is, wax and wane cycles like this are part and parcel in the aircraft industry. It’s generally understood in this town that if you choose to make aerospace your profession, expect to get laid off at least once or twice during your career. It’s the price you pay for having a good-paying job with great benefits in an industry that has a cyclical nature.

    • DanC922 says:

      @WraithSama:

      I live in Wichita too and used to work at Beechcraft. I took a 3 month leave from work last year, during which lots of people were laid off, so I didn’t get my job back. I built the Beechcraft King Air, which is a very economical plane.

      Cessna has been hit pretty hard. Almost half of their workforce has been laid off.

  9. badgeman46 says:

    I work in aviation. I can tell you that every time one of those “fat cat evil capitalists” doesn’t fly his plane into our airport, the guys that work at the FBO’s are losing more hours, taking more pay cuts. The rental cars are being rented less, the hotel rooms are vacant. The air traffic controllers make less, because they are essentially paid in the amount of traffic they move. The pilot is sitting at home stressing about his mortgagr. The restauraunts don’t get any business, the limo companies don’t either. Is it really woth all of this derision, when it actually HELPS the economy when there is coroporate aviation?

    • Esquire99 says:

      @badgeman46:
      I was with you up until the part about Air Traffic Control. That’s completely and utterly wrong. No air traffic controllers in the country are paid based on traffic; for one, that’s a HUGE safety issue; two, it’s just dumb. I’m not sure who told you that, but you should give them a swift kick in the ass next time you see them.

      • Anonymous says:

        @badgeman46: @Esquire99:

        I’m an air traffic controller. There is *some* truth in the statement about being paid by traffic worked, but the way it’s written is misleading. The facility you work at is rated (Level 12 is the highest) and the salary bands are based on what level facility you work at. Level 12 facilities (New York Center, SoCal Tracon, ATL tower, etc) obviously have higher paybands than a level 10 facility (Salt Lake Center, Denver Center are two examples).

        I work at a level 7 tower. It was recently (about a year ago) downgraded from level 8 due to the sharp drop-off in traffic. My airport works mostly bizjets and other GA aircraft and there has been a sharp decline in the number of operations in the last year, so yes, I had to take a paycut when they downgraded us. However, it’s not like you get paid x amount per aircraft you work. The salary bands are purely based on the level of your facility and that can go up and down with fluctuations in volume of traffic.

      • OwenCatherwood says:

        @Esquire99: Yes, they are. Base pay is based on the air traffic “level” of the facility (Tower/TRACON or en route) in which they work. The more traffic you get through a facility on a regular basis, the more likely the facility will be moved up a level resulting in higher pay.

        • Esquire99 says:

          @OwenCatherwood:
          While I agree with you, that’s a very indirect connection. The way it was originally stated makes it seem like they are paid $1 for every airplane they handle. I’ll clarify my comment: No individual controller is paid based on how much traffic that individual controller moves on any given shift, which is what was implied originally.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @badgeman46: I had no idea air traffic controllers were paid by the traffic they move. In that case, I’d guess that job openings at airports like Tokyo get filled very quickly (dammit).

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @badgeman46: The same logic can be used with the Grayhound Bus Line. Even more so, since local restaurants, etc., enjoy greater patronage.
      So, Go Grayhound!

  10. sbcpunkrocker says:

    Just like executives need massive retention bonuses. It’s the same logic (or lack of) that says that companies need to pay millions to the same idiots that screwed up to keep them with the firm, or else someone else will hire them. What is even sadder is that people buy into it and support this ridiculous lifestyle…”maybe someday I’ll be part of their target audience”…Just like a peasant in the feudal ages saying that they would someday be nobility…

    • Cedhed says:

      @sbcpunkrocker:

      You do realize most companies CEO’s have not screwed them up right? Most companies out there are struggling due to the economy but holding firm. A few bad apples etc etc.

  11. The_Gas_Man says:

    “Well, yeah, or the companies that perform better are the ones who can afford corporate planes.”
    Because we all know companies really have no need for corporate jets and only buy them for purely evil reasons to spite their employees.

    • GiantMonster says:

      @The_Gas_Man: Do you seriously not see the flaw in the campaign’s logic?

      The greatest NFL players usually own Super Bowl rings. Buy yourself a Super Bowl ring so you can become a NFL legend too!

  12. InsertBullets says:

    Things arn’t much better over here in the Military Aerospace world either. So since Obama changed his mind and no longer wants them, why not make a real statement during your corporate travels and arrive in a brand new fully loaded Boeing C-17A Globemaster III.

  13. runswithscissors says:

    I think most people would be fine with corporate jets when the reasons they are used by a company are transportation efficiency (i.e. cheaper to fly 18 employees to the trade show on the corp jet rather than fly them all commercial) and/or to handle trips that are not viable with commercial aviation (like an Exec jet-hopping across several locations in a short period of time, etc).

    BUT

    You and I and Joe Schmoe all know that usually the jets end up being corporate luxury chariots for the Chief Whatever Officers and their entourages. I’d like to see some stats on how many employees are on an average corp jet flight, and comparisons to commercial alternatives. Couple this with the fact that these same Execs lay thousands off at the drop of a hat to boost stock prices (and thus their own bonuses) but keep using the corp jet for private vacations and to fly their hot secretaries around… well that doesn’t sell so well.

    I think Exec compensation is a hot button largely because of the “royalty” aspect of being a modern exec. The caviar and penthouse suites and luxury jets and limos and exec washrooms – all the trappings of old nobility and broadcasting a “better than the common workers” mentality that only serves to create division and resentment. For all you may consider wrong with WalMart, it is worth noting that their VPs and Execs have normal offices with normal furniture, and use the same washrooms as the serfs. There’s an equality to the corporate structure that inspires loyalty and motivation for the rest of the corporate employees (store employee issues aside).

    • Joe_Bloe says:

      @runswithscissors: Do you have references to cite regarding your contention that “You and I and Joe Schmoe [whoever that is] all know that usually the jets end up being corporate luxury chariots for the Chief Whatever Officers and their entourages?”

      • razremytuxbuddy says:

        @Joe_Bloe: Here’s one. [www.smizak-law.com]

        • Joe_Bloe says:

          @razremytuxbuddy: @razremytuxbuddy: One example, and it’s a bad one. There’s no question that corporate resources like aircraft, or skyboxes at sports arenas, or company cars, can be abused.

          However, the grandparent post asserts that “usually the jets end up being corporate luxury chariots for the Chief Whatever Officers and their entourages. (Emphasis mine). I’d like to see some statistics to back up that “usually.”

          • Joe_Bloe says:

            @Joe_Bloe: And by “bad one,” I mean it’s a damning one, not that your example didn’t apply. Poor wording on my part.

    • razremytuxbuddy says:

      @runswithscissors: I think you nailed the reason for the negative corporate aircraft stigma. The CEO and his/her cronies manipulate company aircraft policies until the planes are merely the personal fleet of the CEO, those he/she deems worthy of the perk, and their friends, families and politicians they want to impress.

      A corporate aircraft CAN be a real workhorse–picking up and dropping off many corporate personnel throughout the day, in trips designed to maximize the number of people and locations it can cover. That is if it’s not tied up flying the CEO and his hand-picked passengers to Palm Beach, Jackson Hole, or a March Madness tournament, and waiting there for them to decide it’s time to fly back home.

  14. crymson777 says:

    I work for one of the biggest banks in the US and I did a study on this for my own information and to plan a possible purchase of the small HondaJet type plane for travel of the higher up individuals in my section of the company. What I found was that it would save us a couple million per year, even with the maintenance, hanger, and personnel costs. Thanks to the dang TARP money, my plan were dashed pretty quick. I have them on the back burner though!

  15. Tim says:

    @badgeman46: By that same logic, any time that money is NOT spent, it is bad for the economy. People ought to spend spend spend, everywhere. There’s no such thing as a bad place to spend your money, because everybody has a mortgage.

  16. badgeman46 says:

    @Esquire99: It is extremely true. An air traffic controller at JFK makes a significantly greater salary than one who is working at a small airport. The FAA bases controller salaries on levels, which are tied to the amount of airplanes worked or “counts.” These levels go from 4 to 12. 4 would be your small town airport and 12 would be your chicago ohare. The difference can be as much as 50,000 dollars in income. To see the actual

    [forums.jetcareers.com] scales, please visit this website:

    • Ubik2501 says:

      @badgeman46: The contention is that you’re painting it as if the air traffic controllers are directly paid on commission, whereas that’s not quite the truth. Unless the amount of air traffic changes so drastically that the airport has to be reclassed, the difference in traffic will likely not affect an air traffic controller’s salary. That part of your argument is therefore spurious.

  17. boxjockey68 says:

    I can’t wait to buy Cessna!

  18. grundge69 says:

    I used to be a contractor to Cessna, as well as Hawker Beechcraft, Learjet…etc. Used to be. The first round of layoffs were announced at Cessna, and I got the ax in two weeks. I worked 10 hour days, rain, sleet, snow, Sun, and made sure that every one of my customers knew they were important. So, it’s not just the aircraft employees that are getting boned, but people who are directly connected to the aircraft industry. I’ve been laid off since February, attended workforce training in April and May to work in the Railroad industry, and unemployment runs out in August. People need to fly again. I want to work. I want to get up early in the morning. Please don’t look at corporate aircraft as luxury and prestige. Rather, look at corporate aircraft as a tool to get the economy rolling again.