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International business aviation travel

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Popular airports, FBOs, and caterers in North America’s east coast.


By Melissa Singer
Contributing Writer

TEB (Teterboro NJ), pictured, tops JETNET’s list as the most active business aviation airport on the US east coast. Meridian is a preferred FBO here, grabbing regularly the top honors in the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey. Popular destinations include YYZ (Pearson, Toronto ON, Canada), YUL (Trudeau, Montréal QC, Canada), NAS (Nassau, Bahamas), BDA (Bermuda), LTN (London Luton, UK), and LBG (le Bourget, Paris, France)..
Understanding business aviation travel trends is everyone’s business. Aircraft owners, operators, pilots, flight attendants, FBOs, MROs, international trip support partners, inflight caterers, and transportation providers all work closely together to deliver an exceptional service and safety experience for international business aviation travelers.

Each segment plays a uniquely important role in both creating and adapting to industry trends. This article will focus on international business trends of the most popular airports on the east coast of the United States and Canada.

We will further examine the most popular international city pairs, the airports themselves, the FBOs, and catering companies.

Gathering data

JETNET, located in Utica NY, has been a trusted source of aviation market intelligence since 1988. This privately-owned family business with more than 70 employees has more than half of its workforce dedicated to research via daily contact with aircraft owners and operators, tracking more than 110,000 business and commercial aircraft worldwide.

Of those 110,000, roughly 60,000 are fixed- and rotary-wing business aircraft. The company offers a wide range of solutions and services including JETNET iQ, Evolution Marketplace, Evolution Aerodex, Marketplace Manager, Values, JETNET Global, and AvData Reports.

Since 2011, JETNET iQ has been reaching out quarterly to aircraft owners and operators to participate in JETNET iQ Global Business Aviation Surveys, which collect up-to-date market intelligence. The goal is to identify, analyze, and highlight issues that matter to the business aviation community.

Jetnet.com hosts market reports for 2017, 2018, and 2019 – the company’s most current surveys. Data, which are presented both textually and graphically, provide details of the economy, the industry, and JETNET iQ’s owner/operator surveys and forecasts.

Top destination for business aviation flights departing FXE (Exec, Fort Lauderdale FL) is NAS. Banyan Air Service, pictured, handles a high volume of flights every year, and is a top performer in the Pro Pilot PRASE survey.

Q3 2019 summary report

Data and insights related to the business aviation community provided in JETNET’s iQ Snap! report for Q3 2019 include the following:

• The world business jet fleet is 22,268 strong.

• Approximately 62.4% operate in the US, 15.5% in EMEA, 4.7% in Asia, 4.5% in Mexico, 4.0% in Latin America & the Caribbean, and 2.5% in Canada.

• Including jets and turboprops, the breakdown is roughly 58.3% in the US, 17% in EMEA, 6.5% in Latin America & the Caribbean, 5% in Asia, and 3.6% in Canada.

• Latin America & the Caribbean show the strongest optimism for increased flight activity over the next 12–24 months, followed by North America.

• Around 50% of respondents believe that current conditions for business aviation are past the low point. Optimism seems to have peaked in Q2 2018.

• Average number of flight hours per aircraft shows large-cabin utilization leading the way, followed closely by midsize jets, and with small jets not significantly far behind.

• Respondents expect to fly 3.8% more hours in the next 12 months, and 4.6% in the next 24 months.

The ramp at Million Air HPN (White plains NY) leads to a “must see” luxury resort style FBO that boasts 6 fire places, a full service Starbucks and golf simulator for a one-of-a-kind Million Air experience.

Top business aircraft intl airport city pairs

JETNET’s list of the top 25 business aviation airport/city pairs in North America’s east coast confirms that the most popular regions for international travel are the greater New York and New Jersey area, along with southern Florida.

Business aviation veterans know that more business aviation flights arrive and depart from TEB (Teterboro NJ) than any other east coast airport.

For most, this is where knowledge base certainty on international business aviation travel trends ends, but JETNET offers more information on the subject.

The top 10 airport/city pairs used by business aircraft operators in 2019 rank like this:

1. TEB to YYZ (Pearson, Toronto ON, Canada).
2. TEB to YUL (Trudeau, Montréal QC, Canada).
3. OPF (Opa-Locka FL) to NAS (Nassau, Bahamas).
4. FXE (Exec, Fort Lauderdale FL) to NAS.
5. PBI (West Palm Beach FL) to NAS.
6. TEB to NAS.
7. OPF to TLC (Toluca, Mexico).
8. FLL (Intl, Fort Lauderdale FL) to NAS.
9. TEB to BDA (Bermuda).
10. HPN (White Plains NY) to YYZ.

Sheltair FLL is centrally located between Miami and Palm Beach, near the finest hotels, restaurants, marinas, golf courses, and beaches south Florida has to offer.

Most traveled destinations

TEB holds 8 spots in the top 25 airport/city pairs for 2019. Four additional international destinations from TEB are LTN (London Luton, UK), LBG (le Bourget, Paris, France), PLS (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos), and SXM (Princess Juliana, Sint Maarten).

Topping the list of most visited countries from the top 25 airports on the US east coast are Canada, Bahamas, Mexico, Bermuda, UK, France, Turks and Caicos, Sint Maarten, and the US Virgin Islands. Readers may be surprised that European destinations do not appear in the top 10 list.

Nor does MIA (Intl, Miami FL), but they appear in the next few listings – TEB to LTN ranks 11th, MIA to NAS is 12th, and MIA to TLC takes the 13th spot. TLC is sometimes described as the TEB of Mexico because it boasts the highest volume of business aviation activity in Mexico.

With its extremely high levels of activity, it is well resourced with multiple FBOs/handlers, including Manny Aviation Services, ICCS, Real Alfa Flight, Aerolíneas Ejecutivas, Signature, Jetex, and Universal Aviation. Pro Pilot readers voted Uvavemex TLC as Best Mexican FBO in the 2020 PRASE Survey.

Top honors in the Pro Pilot PRASE Survey usually go to FBOs located at the 10 busiest airport/city pairs. At TEB, for example, Meridian, Jet Aviation, and Signature rank well every year; at FXE, top honors go to Banyan Air Service; at PBI, Jet Aviation grabbed the top spot this year; at FLL, Sheltair excels; at YYZ, top players are Skyservice, Skycharter, and Signature; YUL has Skyservice; and top services at NAS are provided by Jet Aviation and Odyssey Aviation.

Best inflight catering company serving the northeast US locations in the PRASE Survey went to Rudy’s, while Silver Lining clinched the top spot for the south Florida area.

Domestic and international inflight catering trends Inflight catering is an integral part of private jet passengers’ overall flight experience, but satisfying the palate and dietary needs of crew members holds equal significance for aircraft operators and inflight caterers alike.

Beyond the obvious needs and demands on caterers to prepare, transport, and deliver food seamlessly from the kitchen to the aircraft, keeping up with restaurant menu, fitness, and general health trends is in high demand. Joe Celentano, owner of Rudy’s Inflight Catering, has been operating this family-owned catering business for over 25 years, and he has seen some interesting trends in the past few years.

Top 10 catering items requested for flights to the Caribbean and Mexico
1. Ceviche with plantain chips
2. Jerk kabobs with fruit salsa
3. Empanadas with salsa verde
4. Cabana white fish tacos or
rock shrimp tacos
5. Churrasco steak dinner
6. Chicken wings (jerk, smoked)
7. Street corn salad
8. Conch fritters with remoulade
9. Coconut battered shrimp
10. Plantain crusted mahi.

“The shift in the core demographics of our clients continues to evolve,” notes Celentano. “We’ve started to see more and more millennials flying, and we have noticed a continued interest in organic, non-processed foods. The current trend is for foods that come in their purest and most natural state, and can hold up to the temperature swings and logistics of transportation.

Everything from sandwiches made with non-processed meats, natural cheeses, and organic breads, to gluten-free and dairy-free desserts seem to be more of the norm now than ever. Our clients have become significantly more health-conscious and aware of the things that go into their bodies over the past few years.”

Popular diets that have garnered media attention, such as the Paleo diet, Keto diet, and Mediterranean diet, continue to be popular among private jet passengers and crew members. The common thread here is natural, non-processed foods with low or no sugar, no processed flour, and low carb. Another popular trend is the request for smaller portions.

Globally, people are more aware of portion size than ever, and they prefer 4 oz of well-prepared protein of exceptional quality over 10 oz of a lesser-quality option. The popular farm-to-table restaurant concept is part of a social movement to serve locally sourced foods that have not been shipped long distances, and it’s part of a continuing trend of more health-conscious eating.

Restaurant menus everywhere are adapting quickly to consumer demands for healthy options that are low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and the increasingly popular plant-based diet trend.

Safety first

Aircraft operators are highly concerned about safety, including the quality and reliability of 3rd-party vendors such as inflight caterers.

To be selected as a recognized caterer requires a level of expertise that ensures that crew members and passengers will have the best experience. Mike Linder, owner and CEO of Silver Lining, based in Pompano Beach FL, says that concierge services are affected by trends.

“Silver Lining is always willing to provide specialty restaurant pickups, periodicals, florals, and spirits to meet customer demands,” he adds. While adapting to trends is a necessity, inflight caterers are often the trend setters.

This is the case with Air Culinaire Worldwide (ACW), headquartered in Tampa FL. In late 2018, ACW introduced an innovative menu concept to aviation catering called “the lifestyle menu,” which is available at its 10 inflight catering kitchens in the US.

The menu had previously been launched at ACW’s 3 European locations, and it includes common gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan dietary styles, but it gets intriguingly innovative in that it’s designed with the client’s unique mood and lifestyles in mind, and then introduces nutraceuticals and superfoods along with additional top trends into inflight signature dishes.

ACW Co-founder and Senior VP of Global Sales & Marketing Paul Schweitzer shares another innovation – the company has launched a menu app that provides customers with mobile access to menus, training, and resources, such as how to plate menu items, a blog, and the ability to place orders throughout ACW’s global network.

“The popularity of the app is growing continually due to its ease of use and convenience for operators, crew members, and passengers” says Schweitzer.


This is the 1st of a 2-part series profiling international business aviation travel preferences in North America. Part 2 will examine bizav trends on the west coast, popular destinations, and shifts in safety protocols brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.


 

Melissa Singer is the founder & CEO of Moxie Global Consulting. She served as senior director of brand extension for Signature Flight Support, and has held senior leadership positions with Flight Options/FlexJet and the Walt Disney Co.

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