It all started when the CEO's of the big three automakers flew private jets to Washington to plead for public funds. Now, corporate jet companies are suffering across the country.
Ira Eichenfield has run this private jet charter service, Corporate Flight International, for 25 years. Since December, he's watched more and more costumers give up on using his jets for business.
"Our industry as a whole is down between 30 and 50-percent," he said.
Eichenfield says what people don't realize is that many companies who did not get bailout money use these jets for business. He says it's more efficient -- you can do your business all in one day, and avoid staying overnight, "If you do three or four stops a day in different airports in different states, not only is it going to save you a lot of time, but it can actually save you money on those airline tickets because you couldn't do that in a day."
And time is money. Eichenfield says corporate flight companies need to educate the public. They are going to start ad campaigns, in fact, Cessna already has, "General aviation is a huge resource for jobs and income for many, many people around the United States and the world for that matter."
His company flies not only business people, but also celebrities and families. For those who can afford it, flying his jets may be cheaper than buying separate tickets on commercial airlines.
He says charter jets can also land at many airports that don't allow commercial flights.
There are five corporate jet companies in the valley. Eichenfield says they have all talked about the issues they are facing. They have already trimmed expenses and laid off employees.
Eichenfield says what it all comes down to is the perception created by politicians, "It will continue that way until they realize they themselves travel in these types of airplanes and how productive and secure it is. They use them all the time. It's kind of like a double standard -- almost hypocritical."
And Eichenfield can only hope those that use his jets will see that and come back.
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