It’s true, the price of jet-A has risen steeper than a max-power climb gradient. But the cost of many other business aviation staples has remained relatively stable, and in some cases nosed over in the past five years. Even fuel prices have come down somewhat in recent weeks. These are among the findings of a comparative survey of business aviation costs and operational data compiled by NBAA Convention News.
Price of petroleum
As oil soared to nearly $147 a barrel this summer, U.S. airlines began tacking fuel surcharges onto the prices of their tickets. The commercial carriers also began charging for previously free items, such as a second (and in some cases, a first) checked bag, blankets and drinks.
In a curious illustration of how current events make strange bedfellows, the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) has joined Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and NBAA to fight what they perceive to be causes of record-high oil prices. The two associations are members of the newly formed Stop Oil Speculation Now (S.O.S. Now) campaign, which includes airlines, trucking companies and travel associations. S.O.S.
There is no short-term fix for the high price of oil, concluded panelists at the Air Service Energy Summit, held on July 10 in Washington, D.C.
“The fundamentals don’t support the price of oil,” Hiller Group national sales manager Wesley Earl told attendees of the Florida Aviation Trade Association annual meeting on Tuesday. Tampa, Fla.-based Hiller Group is a fuel distributor that provides Chevron and Texaco branded fuel to more than 350 FBOs. Factors inflating fuel prices include the dwindling number of refineries (especially for jet-A), geopolitical issues, lack of a U.S.
Energy companies’ experience of the early-1990s Gulf War suggests that any sudden increase in oil prices owing to a new Iraq conflict might be brief, since the market has become much more responsive to demand. However, current oil supplies are plentiful, according to a petroleum industry senior executive.
Global events are apparently conspiring to create some increase in the cost of business aircraft interiors. Ed Harris, director of sales and marketing for Fiber Art of San Antonio, said his company has recently sent letters to its customers advising them that prices this year are going up by about 15 percent.
Skyrocketing jet fuel prices did almost nothing to slow down high-flying business jet travelers, who collectively took to the skies in record numbers this year, according to industry statistics. Now that crude oil prices are falling, analysts predict economic growth will further boost the use of business jets by corporations and the well-to-do.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the surge in auto-fuel prices–with the per-gallon increases lagging just hours behind the rising flood waters–was at the forefront of everybody’s mind. A flurry of activity on the political front–including the release of six million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve–further focused the nation’s attention on the cost of keeping America’s engines running.
A world without oil is a breeding ground for alarmists, some say, blithely confident that it can’t run out and “we’ll find more,” but if it ever does run out “we’ll have found something else by then.”