Companies that used business aviation during the “Great Recession” fared much better than businesses that parked their aircraft or did not use business aviation, according to a new study released yesterday by the National Business Aviation Association. The study, “Business Aviation –- Maintaining Shareholder Value Through Turbulent Times,” found that business aviation users performed better in revenue growth, net income growth and EBITDA growth. In addition, companies that used business aviation also far outpaced others in new hires.

“The popular perception is that a lot of companies stopped using business airplanes during the recession because of economic reasons or because so many in the media and elsewhere had taken an unfavorable view of it,” says NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “This study shows … there are actually more business aviation users in the S&P 500 today than there were in 2007 and that top-performing companies increased their use of business aviation during the recession.”

Bolen adds that the study shows “when times were toughest, companies had to be more efficient, [and] more companies turned to business aviation.”

The study is part of a series commissioned through the No Plane No Gain industry effort to improve public perception of the industry. “Policy follows perception,” Bolen says. “If our industry has a negative perception then inevitably negative consequences will follow.”

General Aviation Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pete Bunce says the industry has made significant strides in public perception, which hit a low soon after executives from the “Big Three” automobile manufacturers were criticized for taking business aircraft to Washington to ask for federal assistance for their companies. “We figured out which industries we’re going to vilify,” Bunce says.

That was the primary driver behind the relaunch of No Plane No Gain, which has coordinated on a number of efforts from studies of the value of business aviation, to ads designed to educate policy makers, to rallies in various states.

But Bolen and Bunce stress that despite these strides, the industry faces a number of pressing issues, including the potential of a renewed push for user fees as Washington grapples with its budget.

Mica Backs No Plane No Gain

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee promised attendees at the opening general session yesterday that he would work with the industry “to stop the war on business.” Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) says he would join in the No Plane No Gain initiative, calling it the perfect message to get across in Washington.

“I wish I could tell you that the war on business aviation is over,” he says. “Some people just don’t get it.” Many lawmakers and policymakers don’t understand the value of business aviation, he says, and look at taxes on business aviation as good for the economy. “Sometimes they don’t learn and you have to remind them.”

By working collaboratively, business aviation can combat these efforts, Mica says.