While demand for private jet flights remains above 2019, but down from 2021-22, the operating environment challenges haven’t subsided.
Senior executives from private jet operators and manufacturers speaking during the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition last week in Geneva had a grim assessment when it comes to supply chains and labor issues.
While they seemed pleased that demand has slipped to a more manageable level, operations are still a challenge.
All the things you read about, we definitely experienced– Mark Burns, President, Gulfstream Aerospace
Nicholas Houseman, CEO of charter operator Elit’Avia, said it has gone back to “filling the schedule.”
During the record surge, operators, he said, were able to pick which trips they want.
Eymeric Segard of charter broker Luna Jets said bookings are 3% below last year.
Oliver King, CEO of Avinode, an online directory of operators and aircraft used by brokers, said, based on his data, 2023 will be better than 2019 despite the slide.
However, when it came to labor chains and supply issues, executives echoed a Corporate Jet Investor Town Hall from just before the show.
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, told a press conference, “It’s not easy with the suppliers…They are taking more time.”
He said, “It’s worse than last year,” dismissing more optimistic views.
“It’s not only at Dassault, it’s everywhere. Commercial aircraft are suffering from the same,” he added.
Gulfstream Aerospace President Mark Burn said the supply chain issues have “evolved.”
Originally there were shortages of tires and chips. Now it’s adhesives, transparencies, and technicians.
He said after suppliers completely shuttered at the start of Covid, the surge in demand, “We told suppliers not only do we want you to restart, we want you to go faster.”
“All the things you read about, we definitely experienced,” Burns told a gathering of journalists.
Pascal Bachmann of preowned aircraft broker Jetcraft said there are “sizeable MROs not working on weekends because they don’t have the staff.”
Houseman, asked if supply chain issues for the operator were better than a year ago, said, “I would like to say yes, but it’s no. It’s a real challenge. But as the operator, you always take the blame. As an operator, if the aircraft didn’t return to service, it’s the operator that didn’t get the parts in time or couldn’t schedule the labor.”
He added, “I think that’s going to continue for two reasons. There’s still a shortage of technicians, and we struggle to get pilots. Getting anyone to fill a role is hard, and then parts, you put pressure on the OEMs, and they struggle.”
The upstream issues go beyond labor and suppliers.
Burns also pointed to the Federal Aviation Administration as slowing approvals, noting the regulators are still “not fully back in the office.”