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Business jet manufacturers fight to remake imageBusiness jet manufacturers fight to remake image

Two major business aircraft manufacturers launched ad campaigns this week to counter negative publicity that has cast the business jet recently as a symbol of excess rather than a tool of industry.

Cessna Aircraft Company and Hawker Beechcraft Corp. have both launched campaigns aimed at companies feeling pressure to abandon their fleets. The ads urge business leaders to use general aviation aircraft as a fast and efficient way to travel and address misinformation that has stigmatized the practice in recent months.

“Timidity didn’t get you this far. Why put it in your business plan now?” reads a Cessna ad, set in bold white type on a black background. The ad promotes corporate aircraft as a travel solution that can adapt to the needs of a company, even in tempestuous times.

“One thing is certain: true visionaries will continue to fly.”

The first of the Hawker Beechcraft ads is an open letter to Starbucks, which is selling some of its business aircraft: “Dear Starbucks, You still need to fly. We can help.” The ad uses the Hawker 4000 as an example of a jet that “does most of what bigger jets do, but at half the price.” It urges the coffee company to “right-size” its flight department.

The use of business jets has come under fire recently, with members of Congress criticizing the chief executive officers of the Big Three automakers for traveling to Washington, D.C., by private jet in order to seek federal aid. A backlash against executive excesses in the face of dire economic conditions spread to include business aircraft, a regular part of business operations, alongside such wasteful displays as former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain’s $35,000 commode. Both ad campaigns, which will target business and other national publications, try to address public misperceptions of what business jets mean for industry.

The National Business Aviation Association and General Aviation Manufacturers Association have also launched a joint advocacy campaign, “ No Plane No Gain,” to counter negative publicity for the business jet industry.

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