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Secret agents have knife blades built into the toes of their shoes, and international spies keep poison-filled pen darts in their coat pocket. When things get dicey, they know that these weapons may give them the strategic advantage they need to clobber their opponent.

In business – which often resembles war – smart business people also need to acquire every advantage over the competition to win the dogfight and seal a profitable deal. And this week, MSNBC is telling the world what we pilots already know...owning your own aircraft is the single best way to set your business apart from those other guys in your trade who are still dumb enough to fly commercial:

When a meeting with clients runs late, Andy Davidson doesn't have to worry that his plane will leave without him. Instead of impatiently waiting in mile-long security lines or silently waging war over a shared airplane armrest, Davidson can walk straight to his own six-seater, climb into the cockpit and take off. Most executives like Davidson either buy or lease small planes, called single-engine pistons, with seating room equivalent to a family sedan and the ability to fly up to about 1,000 miles. With many airlines cutting back flights to smaller destinations, small-business owners and mid-level executives are realizing that flying themselves might actually be feasible.
It is true, as airline service deteriorates, the Big Carriers have become GA's best salesmen. MSNBC continues with a story that reads like music to any aircraft sales guy's ear:
The benefits of private-plane travel are all too evident to anyone who's ever been bumped from an overbooked flight or waited for takeoff at rush hour. Executive pilot Steven Hall, the managing director of his own executive compensation consulting firm, said he leaves his house only 30 to 40 minutes before he plans to take off rather than the two hours he budgets to go through security lines when taking a commercial flight. He said private planes, which leave from much smaller airports, are also not subject to the same delays in departures and arrivals as commercial flights using major airports. "Most of us who travel on business can tell stories of sitting on the ground for four hours waiting for the plane to be cleared for takeoff for what was supposed to be a 90-minute flight," Hall said.
The MSNBC piece also explains how a company plane can be a valuable asset well worth the price of admission:
Richard Shine, who owns Manitoba Corp., a metal recycling business outside of Buffalo, N.Y., credits his plane with just that. Starting in the 1970s, companies in upstate New York that once provided scrap metal to Manitoba started moving their businesses elsewhere. To expand the company's supply base, Shine began using a small plane, in which he owned a half-interest, to find new suppliers. Since then, the company has bought a bigger plane — a Mitsubishi Mu-2 Solitaire — and now makes the aircraft a major part of its marketing materials. "We think of it as the same as having another sales person on staff," said Shine, a former Air Force pilot. "It costs about the same, but it doesn't complain and it's almost always willing to work."
It is seriously refreshing to see the mainstream media tooting our horn. I hope a few hundred rich business men and women see this story and decide to order their new plane. It will be the smartest business decision they have every made. Of course, you already knew that, but it is great to see Average Joe and Jane get that message delivered to them via a non-aviation media outlet.

In case YOU are ready to gain that competitive advantage for your company, here are a few places to start shopping:

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