by N.B. | WASHINGTON, DC
THE private-jet industry is experiencing a "revival" driven by demand for long-distance flights to new "exotic locales", according to a recent article in the New York Times:
The number of long-range flights rose 18.7 percent through October this year compared with the same period last year, while the total number of business aviation flights was down 0.7 percent, according to Argus International, which tracks the total flights that begin or end in North America. As for the jets themselves, the manufacture of ultra-long-range planes grew 29 percent for the year through September, compared with the same period last year, while business jet manufacturing as a whole shrank by 2.1 percent, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
So it's not so much the case that the private jet industry is growing (as the article discloses, flights were actually down this year) as changing. With improvements in private-jet technology, customers' demands are altering and flights are getting longer. This is the particularly interesting part of the Times story, though:
As global business has shifted, the growth of markets like China, Nigeria, Uganda, Angola and Brazil has been staggering... "These are not routes that people fly for vacation," said Joshua Marks, chief executive of masFlight, an aviation operations data and analytics company based in Bethesda, Md.
Beyond convenience, there are competitive reasons to use private jets. "You want to get in as quickly and stealthily as you can," Mr Marks said. "Private jets don't market routes. They respond when clients ask."
This, of course, is why intelligence services, including America's Central Intelligence Agency, have long valued the business jet. Now that longer-range jets are a reality, they'll doubtless become an even more important tool for the shadowy world of spycraft. But business-jet owners who lease out their planes when they're not needed (as I'm sure many Gulliver readers do) should be careful: you may not know how your plane is being used. Take Phillip Morse, a minority partner in the Boston Red Sox baseball team (and a co-owner of Liverpool FC), who was shocked to learn that, according to one report, the CIA had been using his plane for extraordinary renditions, in which detainees are transferred to countries for interrogation and torture. Quickly and stealthily, indeed.