The generation game

“Find a connection between the DNA of the ground and the air and you’ll find a future we can work on.” So speaks Tom Palmaerts, Trend Chief & Partner of Belgian future thinking consultancy Trendwolves.

There is a great gulf between people from Generation Y and those that are actually flying today. The average age of a business aircraft owner is 60 years old – clearly not the same customer that will be buying aircraft in the future. However, the charter industry is looking more promising. According to online broker PrivateFly, the average age of charter users is 40. Furthermore, according to WinX Advance’s Richard Koe, these people are bringing in a younger market. “Companies like PrivateFly and other technological innovators are appealing to a generation that is growing up with internet and mobile phones,” he explains.

Consultant Rolland Vincent points out that today’s young people are living in a very different world from the 60-year-old owners, and have a very different mindset. “If you want to create a flourishing private aviation industry, it will require production facilities and fuel,” he cautions. “We are a dirty industry in terms of how much we pollute the environment and we have to address propulsion technology and processes.”

A look to the CEE

Putting the future in context of today, business aviation activity in the CEE region is flat, with a minor uptick of 3% growth. However, when compared to Europe, it has a six-year history of positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) – not to mention that the whole region is relatively wealthy. Very light jet activity accounts for 20% of operations, indicating there are new customers coming into the market via air taxi services. The region’s top players are The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. The single engine turboprop has seen resurgence here, particularly the Pilatus PC12. “The new SET regulation may offer a new price point to users in this region,” points out Koe.

That being said, according to Palmaerts, the future of bizav is bright. “Young people are the key and Gen Y is a generation that is globally connected and the most influenced by technology,” he says