By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Both The New York Times and Forbes this week published unusually upbeat stories about general aviation. Fractional-ownership and charter jet operators have seen a rise in business over the last year or so, according to the Times story, by Joe Sharkey. XOJet, a charter operator, for example, reported a 55 percent increase in flight hours in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year. And in Forbes this week, writer Mark Patiky shows readers how efficient it can be to fly yourself in a small aircraft, describing his flight in a Mooney as the best way to get from Providence, R.I., to Teterboro, N.J. "It's amazing to realize how powerful a business tool even a small airplane can be," says Patiky.
The Times story, while upbeat, acknowledges that the corporate jet market still has a long way to go to recover to the flying hours and sales numbers that were seen before the economic downturn. For example, the fractional-share market is now up to about 350,000 hours of flying per year, but before the recession, the industry sold about 450,000 hours per year. In Forbes, Patiky says while saving time and money is a great incentive, there are other reasons to fly GA. "You can make travel a pleasure again," he writes. "Actually make it fun. How do you put a price tag on that?"