Observations from Orlando, or proof that even Mother Nature can’t stop a successful bizav show ... Numberswise, the annual NBAA convention, moved from New Orleans to Orlando, was one of the best. Traffic was a bit more subdued than usual, perhaps a reality of adjusted schedules. Those that planned three days in New Orleans had to cut back to one or two because of the change in venue.
The overriding message from the leading business aviation event, a true barometer of the marketplace, is that business is good and that the term “very light jet” has officially become part of the aviation vernacular. VLJs are soon expected to be coming to an airport near you, led by the Eclipse 500 which realistically will be in service by mid-2006.
Fuel suppliers will tell you that jet fuel sales are up for 2005, another reflection of the vibrant business aviation sector. Avgas, however, is down as much as 5 percent for the year. The volatility of prices may have had FBOs answering a lot of questions with corporates, but the questions were being asked while the tanks were being filled. For recreational and flight training flyers, however, price seems to be having a direct negative effect on activity.
Regarding fuel prices, one fuel rep may have said it best: “Sometimes the best solution to high prices is high prices.” That is, the market has a way of sorting things out, even after a major disruption like that brought upon by the hurricanes of 2005.
On the subject of the health of fixed base operators, always a major presence at NBAA, the synopsis is two-fold: outside money continues to have a significant interest (and growing investment) in the FBO sector; and, major chains are looking for new ways to profit from their extensive management capabilities.
Signature Flight Support mulls opportunities with independent FBOs that it could acquire and not brand as Signature, while taking a serious look at offering a plate of services to airports. Million Air has entered a contract with the Albany Airport Authority to provide FBO and airline services under contract with the airport, while the airport retains the FBO facility leasehold. At Million Air, contracting out its FBO services to airports and/or other operators is expected to become a new profit center.
Finally, a note of congratulations to Bill Bohlke, operator of Bohlke International Airways in St. Croix. Due to age restrictions, he is being forced to retire his captain’s seat at American Airlines. Only question is, where will all that energy be redirected? (Wife Tuddy no doubt wonders the same.)
Thanks for reading.
Among FBOs, acquisitions remain a hot topic; offering 'integrated solutions'
ORLANDO On the heels of the annual convention of the National Business Aviation Association being held here this week, there lies the underlying question: Will the move to Orlando from New Orleans...