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What Is Business Aviation? The Value Of Private Business Jets

Business Aviation 101


Private business aviation is a vital, $150 billion industry that allows companies to accomplish their business missions effectively, efficiently, safely, and responsibly. But who relies on private business aviation, and why? What value do private flights provide to a business enterprise? How do companies utilize business aircraft? Find the answers to all these questions and more in our introductory guide. We’ll cover:

What business aviation is, and who uses it
The reasons companies utilize business aviation
The different ways to fly private

What is business aviation—and who is it for?

Business aviation is the use of general aviation for business purposes—”general aviation” being any and all flights not operated by commercial airlines or the military. This field encompasses many different types of aircraft, from turboprop planes and helicopters to jets ranging from light to heavy in size, all chosen to support a variety of missions. These aircraft are able to operate not only from commercial airports, but also from private terminals and fixed-base operators, or FBOs. 

Just as diverse as the aircraft are the companies represented in the business aviation community. Business aviation is not just limited to large corporations; in fact, the NBAA reports that 97% of businesses utilizing private aviation are small- to mid-size businesses or non-profits, and according to a 2018 study, 57% of companies using business aviation have fewer than 500 employees.

While the words “business aviation” may conjure images of CEOs, board members, and other top business leaders flying in style, the NBAA says top management is on board business aircraft less than 50% of the time, and that 72% of passengers aboard business airplanes are non-executive employees like sales, technology, and marketing personnel as well as customers. Companies using private business jets aren’t just moving their top brass—they’re moving whoever they need to in order to close in-person transactions quickly and efficiently.

man on business jet

What can private aviation do for my business?

The value of private aviation lies in its ability to provide solutions to the challenges of the modern, fast-paced, and global business world. Here are some of the reasons companies rely on business aviation to compete in competitive marketplaces.

Make multiple stops in a single day 

A business jet can turn what was once a logistically complicated travel endeavor into a quick and seamless trip by making multiple stops in a single day, something that just isn’t possible with other types of transportation. On average, surveyed pilots said in 2018, 42.2% of the trips they flew made stops at more than one location. Getting all your business done in as little as a day also means optimizing cost efficiency by minimizing or avoiding the expenses often involved in longer trips, like rental cars, hotels, meals, and other costs.

Go where the airlines can’t

  • Commercial airlines can reach around 500 airports—but private jets are able to reach more than 5,000. In 2018, pilots surveyed by the NBAA reported that 42.5% of their flights were to towns with little or no airline service—and 31.5% of their flights were to destinations that have never been serviced by commercial airlines. Business aviation helps companies extend their mission beyond the scope of commercial flight. If your enterprise needs to reach destinations and communities that don’t draw the demand of commercial airlines, business aviation can be your solution.
  • Guarantee the flexibility your business requires

    Scheduling flexibility is a major part of private aviation’s value to business. Passengers surveyed by the NBAA said 51.6% of the flights they took on business aircraft allowed them to keep to a schedule that would not be possible with other modes of transport, including commercial airlines. Modern business moves quickly, and business aviation allows for the flexibility to follow opportunities wherever and whenever they arise—in some cases, giving you access to aircraft at as little as eight hours’ notice.

    Ensure a predictable schedule for your business transactions

  • Commercial airlines have unpredictable on-time performance rates. Business Advisor says more than 3% of commercial flights are cancelled, while nearly a quarter are delayed. What’s more, crowded flights mean there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get on the next plane if your flight is cancelled. With business aviation, travelers make their own schedules rather than being at the mercy of airlines’ schedules, doing business on their own time and largely avoiding the instability that plagues commercial flight. Private flyers will also avoid long lines and airport security—and if they’re running late, they have the peace of mind of knowing their private aircraft will wait for them. 


  • Think of a private jet as your conference room in the air, with cabins designed for team or individual work and often featuring internet, phone, and conferencing capabilities. An NBAA survey found that business aircraft passengers spend about 63% of their time in the air working and 38% in meetings. Passenger productivity is even more dramatic when considered against commercial aviation; the same survey found 66% of passengers said they were more productive on business aircraft than in the office, while 86% said they were less productive on commercial flights than in the office.

  • In comparison to commercial aviation, flying private is much safer—and private aviation’s high safety value drove many new flyers to fly private for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Private aircraft undergo a more thorough cleaning than commercial aircraft, and private travelers bypass congested terminals and airports; a recent McKinsey analysis showed that “a person on the average commercial flight has about 700 points of contact with other people and objects,” while private jets have only “20 to 30” touch points, reducing travelers’ risk of exposure. In addition to passengers’ physical safety, you can rest assured that your proprietary information, trade secrets, and intellectual property will be secure. You control the passenger list, so sensitive information, private meetings, and high-level negotiations can take place without any unwanted eavesdropping.
  • Increase shareholder value

The time savings, increased productivity, and strategic transaction acceleration enabled by business jets will return more to your enterprise’s shareholders. Private flights benefit shareholder value in terms of revenue growth, profit growth, and asset efficiency, according to a NEXA Advisors study. The NBAA found that S&P 500 companies that use business aviation outperform those that don’t by 70%, and business aircraft users outperform non-users by 23% in revenue growth.
private business jet traveler on phone with luggage


There are many different choices available when it comes to flying private, and there’s no one right way to fly—it’s all about finding the option that best fits you or your company’s needs. Several options allow you to emulate business jet ownership without being responsible for things like the aircraft’s storage, maintenance, and upkeep. Magellan Jets offers jet card ownershippay-as-you-go membership, and on-demand charter, but some companies may also consider fractional ownership or outright aircraft ownership for their travel solutions as well.

• New to private aviation? Explore our first-time flyer guide


Jet cards allow an owner to purchase time on the aircraft of their choice, typically in 25-hour increments, then book flights on that aircraft at a fixed hourly rate. You’ll have guaranteed access to your jet whenever and wherever you want it, provided you book your flight outside of the established deadline—which can be as little as eight hours. Most jet cards do not involve long-term commitments, lasting 12-24 months. With Magellan Jets, jet card owners choose between specific business jets in the heavy (Gulfstream G450/550, Gulfstream GIV-SP, Challenger 604/605), super-mid (Challenger 300/350, Gulfstream G200/280, Citation X), mid (Hawker 800XP, Citation Excel/XLS), and light (Phenom 300, Citation Jet 3/4) categories. 


Membership programs offer a pay-as-you-go model for access to a variety of aircraft after an initial investment. A Magellan Jets membership is ideal for providing supplemental lift, as members can pick the right aircraft category to fit their needs on a trip-by-trip basis, and secure flights for other parties, even when the lead member isn’t onboard. While different companies’ programs may vary in the benefits offered, Magellan’s membership programs offer a 12-month guaranteed rate lock, no hidden fees with all-inclusive hourly pricing, no peak travel or fuel surcharges, guaranteed year-round access without blackout days, and a number of exclusive benefits through a network of premium brand collaborations. 


Businesses that only need to book one-off trips, or those that are more budget-conscious, may prefer on-demand chartering flights. Chartering a private aircraft gives travelers the ability to pay one flight at a time rather than pre-pay in larger amounts. You can pick the destination and departure time you want, but fleets may be limited and planes may already be booked—so you won’t have the guaranteed flexibility of jet cards or membership. 


With fractional, or partial jet ownership, private flyers can lock down a set amount of hours per year on an aircraft. It works by purchasing shares of the aircraft in fractions, with the number of hours you get based on how large a share you’ve purchased. This method is generally used by travelers who plan on at least 50 or more flight hours per year. But, buyer beware—fractional owners share the responsibilities of ownership with other fractional owners who have similar flight needs, so the fractional model is almost equivalent to running an entire side business. There may be monthly management fees (even if you don’t fly), a potential lack of peak travel period availability for your business jet, or other limitations due to the shared nature of the program.


Of course, some companies may choose to purchase and operate their own aircraft, if they find ownership suits their needs. But many businesses that own their own aircraft—or even their own fleet—may still supplement their corporate flight departments with one of the above options. If they own a heavy jet, for example, they may have their coast-to-coast or international flight needs covered, but might also buy a jet card for access to a light jet, for when their business mission only involves flying a short distance. 

Ready to learn more?

Want to learn more about private aviation? Magellan Jets’ toolkit of private travel guides will help to inform and educate as you consider your choices in private travel. Click below to research options in purely private flight.

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