NBAA's Bolen says private jets set for a sustainable rebound in 2021

By Doug Gollan, January 31, 2021

The CEO of the National Business Aviation Association says a post-COVID business travel recovery, new customers and increased availability of sustainable aviation fuel offers a positive outlook for private aviation

Crediting the CARES Act for “helping companies survive and general aviation airports to have operating money,” National Business Aviation Association CEO Ed Bolen last week told the Asset Insight podcast business aviation is well-positioned.

Bolen says the forecast for 3% GDP growth in the U.S. positions private aviation well against a historic benchmark for success.

“On a macro level there is a lot of hope that the vaccine will be able to be widely distributed, widely adopted…and within the forseable future, we will be able put the pandemic behind us that will unleash an economic recovery that will be very positive for business aviation,” he told the audience.

While overall business aviation flights in the U.S. bounced back to around 90% of pre-COVID levels by year’s end, it’s who was flying – and who wasn’t – that helps bolster Bolen’s confidence in the future.

“A number of people over the course of the past year have experienced business aviation for the first time…It gives us the opportunity to grow our marketplace,’ he says.

At the same time, as offices reopen and travel restrictions fade, business travel is likely to bounce back.

“As restrictions end up being lifted both domestic and internationally, business aviation may be for the first time in history have an opportunity to be a leading indicator of recovery instead of a trailing indicator,” Bolen says.

He notes, “Travel restrictions and economic challenges that have made it difficult for companies to send people to different places to facilitate market growth.”

Sustainable and supersonic private jets

Also on the horizon for private aviation is the continuing advances in the development of supersonic private jets. And in the near term, Bolen says business aviation is set to become more environmentally friendly as SAF – sustainable aviation fuel – becomes more widely available.

Bolen says SAF has potential to “dramatically reduce our emissions footprint.” The sustainable alternative reduces CO2 emissions up to 85%.

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