Corporate Jet Growth Continues

Despite concerns about the economy, corporate jet travel is booming. The number of flight hours operated by business aircraft rose by more than 30% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report from aviation data firm TAG Aviation. That marks the fourth straight year of growth for private aviation.

The company says it is making investments in infrastructure to serve this growing demand, including a new 30,000-square-foot terminal at Nashville International Airport that will feature “absolute first-class decor” as well as high-tech conference rooms and crew services. It will also offer an expanded fuel farm and ramp space facilities, a new crew lounge and more. The facility is scheduled to open next month.

TAG also reported that PrivaIRA, which provides aircraft management services, will move its entire Part 135 operation to the Boca Raton Airport in Florida later this month. The move will allow the company to expand its fleet of aircraft while reducing costs by avoiding the need for costly maintenance on older models. PrivaIRA is planning to add six new aircraft by the end of the year.

One of the biggest names in private jet service, Wheels Up, is trying to grow its customer base by targeting passengers who fly with airline partners of its owner, Delta Air Lines. Speaking at the recent Corporate Jet Investor conference, the company’s CEO said that it has been expanding its offerings to include charters and memberships for airline partners, such as Air France and Virgin Group.

Wheels Up has also been increasing its relationships with private jet companies that are not Delta partners in order to expand the potential client base for its services. The company recently announced a blockbuster merger with Ross Aviation that will bring the latter’s 19 FBO locations, including three airports where it has two separate FBOs, under the Atlantic brand. The deal will require regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first half of 2022.

In other business aviation news, the CEO of a major aviation-services chain has stepped down. Lou Pepper, who led Atlantic Jet Partners Aviation for 30 years, will remain on the board and focus on his role as a member of the Executive Committee. He will be replaced by Jeff Foland, who has nearly three decades of experience in the aviation, travel, and transportation industries. He most recently served as chief executive officer of The Parking Spot, which operates near-airport parking facilities.

Also this week, a Dallas-based aviation company announced that it had acquired the FBO at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The purchase includes a newly renovated 24.5-acre facility with an impressive runway extension, a hangar, and a training room. The facility is currently being used to support the refueling operations of the city’s Department of Aviation, but it will eventually be offered as an FBO to other customers. The company says it plans to invest more than $500,000 in the facility over the next five years.