General aviation has experienced a boom during the pandemic. Carver Aero — a subsidiary of CL Enterprises — has benefited from this boom, not only through their charter services, but their flight school operation as well. Carver Aero CEO Guy Lieser and Director of Finance Mike Manning sat down with Joe Petrie, editor-in-chief of Airport Business, to discuss the future of general aviation and growth of FBOs.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for charter flights has increased dramatically. Carver Aero has seen this uptick in charter traffic, as well as an increase in their flight school numbers.
“Typically, in a downturn like we’ve experienced through COVID, general aviation takes a big hit but we’re seeing a growth both in the charter side of our company and also on the flight school side of our company,” Lieser noted. “Flight training numbers are well up over last year for us as well as charter.”
The sudden increase in flight school numbers is because, during the pandemic, people have more time on their hands and don’t necessarily want to deal with a public version of air transportation.
Lieser expects this growth to continue into 2021 due to the notorious “aviation bug.” Once people get involved in aviation, they get hooked, and that leads them to seek out other aviation-related activities, mentioned Lieser.
Because of the major changes happening in the aviation industry, FBO services will also change long-term. Services related to charter flights — hotels, transportation, etc. — will continue to grow along with the demand for charter services. Manning also commented it will be important for smaller airports to find a unique offering to drive traffic to their facility, citing an airplane paint shop as an example.
Many jobs have been lost in the aviation sector due to COVID-19, but Lieser remains optimistic moving into 2021. A lot of those lost jobs come from the commercial sector, which has actually benefitted general aviation companies like Carver Aero. Pilots and mechanics, among other employees, have moved from the commercial side of aviation to general aviation. Lieser noted Carver Aero is able to give them a more stable career, and offer them more benefits than they would see in their commercial positions.
To hear the full podcast, click the link: AviationPros.com/21162461