John Gapper The travails of the business jet industry

These are very tough times for the business jet industry. The now infamous trip by the heads of the Detroit big three to Washington on board corporate jets to plead for cash from the US government has caused a backlash against private travel.

Here comes a fightback: two groups involved in US business aviation have now launched a campaign to improve the industry’s image. The campaign is called “No plane. No gain” and even has its own web site.

As it happens, I have some sympathy for the industry. There is actually some point to executives of big companies with plants or facilities spread across the US, and indeed around the world, flying point-to-point by corporate jet to visit them.

As a shareholder, I would prefer senior executives to save time in this way rather than having to queue at airports to get through security check points.

There has no doubt been excess in recent years, with executives using “security” as an excuse to travel everywhere by private jet. Executives being allowed to use the company jet to go on holiday also strikes me as dubious practice.

But I do not grasp what benefit it brings to investors (even when the government has a stake) to insist on all corporate jets being sold off.