Zakk Razaq, chief flight instructor for Airgo, Inc., of Centralia, IL, says through former students and word of mouth, "we've established a lot more contacts out there and representatives." Representatives work on commission. He says about 98 percent of Airgo's students come from outside the U.S.
Most companies contacted report seeing a few of the $35 coupons for an introductory flight from Be A Pilot, the aviation industry's learn-to-fly marketing effort.
"We get very few coupons, but the ones that we do get seem to be extremely good prospects, and typically without fail they sign up for lessons and spend quite a bit of money," says Smith.
Some flight school representatives note that they had hoped to garner more than just a few coupons. "I think there's something lacking within the Be A Pilot program," says Beckwith.
Pricing: profitable VS. competitive
That $35 introductory flight can be a bargain at some schools or be right on the money at others. Rates seem to vary by location as well as by the company's pricing strategy.
"There's still a lot of people out there that don't have the realization of profitability, and, as a result, they don't charge enough for their airplanes," says Beckwith.
Smith says his company has raised its rates and is finding that the industry can support them. "I think our rates have gone up quite a bit in the past couple of years, but it doesn't seem to have affected our businesss.
"I think we've just decided to break away from the industry standards a little bit and just set our rates at where they need to be for the department to be profitable, rather than feeling like we have to match everybody else's rates."
Caudell says his operation's rates are set strictly on profit. "We don't care how much money other people lose, we just don't want to lose any," he notes.
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