LifeStyle Aviation, a general aviation piston aircraft distributor, is expanding its leasing business to assist flight schools challenged by cash liquidity during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The firm’s network of flight schools supports school owners with flight and management procedures, business growth plans, and yearly meetings where ideas for improvement are shared.
One such flight school is Blue Line Aviation, based at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which took delivery in April of two new Cessna 172 Skyhawks on lease. The North Carolina flight school offers training that begins with a private pilot certificate and coaches students through their commercial, multiengine, instrument, and instructor certificates and ratings.
The school’s flight line includes Diamond Aircraft DA20s, DA40 NGs, and DA42s; and Cessna 172 JT-As and 172 SPs, giving students a variety of experience in high-wing, low-wing, gas-powered, Jet A-powered, single-engine, multiengine, and glass-cockpit aircraft.
Blue Line Aviation CEO Trey Walters said he felt “blessed to have continued opportunities for growth” during challenges brought by the pandemic. He added that the partnership with Lifestyle Aviation “has been a critical component of our success.” Blue Line’s plans include a relocation to nearby Johnston Regional Airport in Smithfield in 2021 with expanded training services.
LifeStyle Aviation President John Armstrong said the company’s lease and leaseback approaches allow network partner flight schools to “continue strategically growing toward their long-term goals.” The aircraft leasing programs can provide owners with some financial breathing room to free up capital for other uses.
Flight schools in many states were designated essential businesses as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, but some struggled with cash flow as states imposed and then lifted stay-at-home orders that affected travel and kept many students from training. Flight schools have since returned to the training environment after adapting new procedures for social distancing, aircraft disinfection, and health screening that comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, and further guidance from the AOPA Air Safety Institute.