Is business aviation the industrial equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn ?
Let me start by saying that business aviation is my passion and has been for the past 18 years. I write this at a time when a once in a generation opportunity has arisen giving business aviation the platform to speak loudly, clearly and positively about a new product to a potentially new audience? The commercial operation of a limited number of single engine aircraft, which has previously been the preserve of everyone BUT Europe, whilst not a panacea, could possibly be something new and exciting.
So what on earth does Jeremy Corbyn have to do with business aviation?
Ignoring personal political belief it would be difficult to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn was not a person of principle who truly believed in what he said, and said what he truly thought. His ideals have rarely changed or faltered in his political lifetime and as partly for this reason he has spent the majority of his political career on the back benches with a limited, but passionate and committed, group of supporters. Now he has been thrust into the second most public position, he is finding it almost impossible to widen his personal appeal further than his enthusiastic and often fanatical protest based support. Does this position sound familiar?
In the paragraph above, if we were to replace Mr Corbyn with a theoretical human manifestation of business aviation called Mr or Mrs Private Plane, I doubt that we would have to change much, if any, of the words or sentiment. I have been privileged to have been involved with Mr or Mrs Private Plane, and I am one of those fanatical band of loyal supporters. In that time they have never changed their principles, and I know they truly believe in themselves and their ideals. They have a fanatical but small group of followers and supporters and have never let their ideals be changed by the promise of a wider audience. Whilst there have been fleeting glimpses of Mr or Mrs Private Plane in the media, they are constantly struggling to widen their appeal to the general public. Their appearances are usually based around negatively spun versions of benign events, often only tenuously related to the subject.
Lets look further at some more specific similarities. When Mr Corbyn had the opportunity to appear with the most high profile public figure he chose to go walking, and at the time he was seen in the pub, surrounded by the faithful followers. When Mr or Mrs Private Plane get the chance to appeal to the wider public, they chose largely to focus their attention more on the small and insular world (pub) filled with aviation people talking about Air Passenger Duty and various other industry based niche issues. No attempt made to connect with a much broader audience.
Mr Corbyn consistently, with passion and conviction, avoids the attention of the wider media, citing a bias against his agenda, and prefers to attend minority protest rallies speaking to an already Corbyn based audience. Mr or Mrs Private Plane are rarely, if ever, seen in the wider media, and when questioned about a story (positive or negative) do not have a public face to promote themselves to the wider audience. Indeed it may appear that BOTH parties have little or no interest in actually being popular on a wider scale.
Mr Corbyn, undoubtedly believes in a society that he states will be fairer and better for many (you may or may not agree) however when asked to explain to the wider audience how much this will cost he will be vague and non committal, allowing and almost encouraging people who are already sceptical about his financial prudence and that of his party, to be able to shout from the roof tops that this appears to be a Utopian fantasy based on the ramblings of a lunatic.
Sometimes Mr or Mrs Private Plane do make the wider audience, represented in the main by some of their supporters, but even then the message is not that they are the only people who can facilitate the purchase of time. The repurchase of your life hour by hour, a unique and invaluable service (unique until the invention of teleportation) with the only cost of this being some money (an infinite resource that you can always make more of) . The message is that with some fancy mathematics, a fair wind, a following breeze and based on other people footing the majority of the bill, you might be able to reduce the cost to equal what you already pay!! Surely the wider audience are used to paying more for things they perceive to be better. If this were not the case John Lewis, £200 jeans and every restaurant that was not based on 3 for 2 would be out of business.
We can however learn from Jeremy Corbyn. Whilst he has not yet been able to garner the support of the mass wider community (and is unlikely to unless he changes his tactics, much like Mr and Mrs Private Plane) he has started very positively to engage with young voters, and to an extent young non voters. This may not bear fruit for Mr Corbyn in his political lifetime, because he unfortunately is at the latter end, however Mr and Mrs Private Plane are likely to be around for the foreseeable future so should be bringing their message to the younger audience, including the audience who can not yet participate, because the young people of today are Mr and Mrs Planes customers of tomorrow.
Mr Corbyn has engaged with Momentum a fierce and well organised sales and lobbying machine who make sure that they are up front and centre at every possible opportunity, and whilst Jeremy Corbyn is much less willing to engage personally, momentum have made themselves heard to the extent that they are almost more widely known than the man himself. Admittedly still only to the loyalists and the young.
Should Mr and Mrs Private Plane have a momentum style group? Lobbying in public, promoting permanently and driving home the message that whilst Mr and Mrs Private Plane are not a low cost option, they are available to a much wider audience, who are more able to afford the service than ever before. When promoted correctly every right minded person would always want to be with Mr and Mrs Private Plane. The only thing standing in their way is money. Lets be clear, money is an infinite commodity that you can always make more of, but time is the ultimate finite commodity which none of us know how much we have. So when the opportunity comes to swop one for the other, surely this is the only common sense option?