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Kevin Singh   Guest Article

Would a change in stakeholder perception benefit business aviation?

Kevin Singh, Founder and CEO, Icarus Jet.


Icarus Jet founder and CEO, Kevin Singh, offers an informed view based on corporate reputation literature to discuss whether it’s in the best interest of the private aviation community to invest resources to positively influence the inconsistent narrative created by the mainstream media around this industry - especially in the environmental discussion.

I’ve written in the past about how private aviation leaders must control the narrative to countermeasure attacks from activists, especially in the green discussion.

Don’t get me wrong, this industry must do whatever it takes to adapt to reduce its environmental footprint, but for the right reasons, not because a handful of climate protesters that damage aircraft by spraying paint demand to.

As with any industry, private aviation should transition into a greener, technological machine that achieves the utmost efficiency while providing a unique service. It should do so because it’s the right thing to do and because its highly informed customers are worried about this issue and how they can positively impact the environment. Yet will they stop flying because a small group of activists stop one or two private jets from flying? Not quite.

Tied to the question that jumpstarts this article, I believe that the perception of private aviation will eventually change if more people (not the activists who are fueled by the green agenda) are educated about the industry. While the previous notion insinuates that a change in perception might be necessary, private aviation leaders should understand what the real perception of the stakeholders of this industry is - those who are separated from the sheer environmental noise and who want to rely on an industry with sustained improved customer service that also welcomes the green debate.

A great exercise that stems from reputation management literature is the so-called stakeholder mapping. Tied to the business goals of each company, this technique helps to understand the level of engagement that an organization must possess with customers, regulators, vendors, and even employees. Dynamic in nature, stakeholder mapping allows one to place these stakeholders in different positions depending on the level of power and interest. The higher both concepts are in your map, usually the top right corner, the higher the level of interest that stakeholders will have in your organization.

Those interested parties require close management and their perception should be highly important for your organization, as it will shape your ‘flight plan’. Therefore, should you worry about what a small group of protesters are doing to a couple of business jets, or would it be best to listen to aircraft owners’ concerns regarding increased usage of SAF because they need to ‘walk the talk’ in front of their own stakeholders? As a global trip support company, at Icarus Jet we believe that the latter is more important for us and the industry as a whole.

Changing for the right reasons

My point here is that the eagerness to change the perception and ultimately the narrative of the industry must be done for the right reasons, with research, data, and common self at the helm - always with the interests of the top stakeholders in mind which, ultimately, are the ones that will bring revenue to your private aviation shop.

But this doesn’t end here - only at the high-interest level stakeholder. What happens to the other interested parties on the map, those still interested in doing business with your company but waiting for the right timing? In reputation management jargon, those are the stakeholders that you ‘keep satisfied’. How? By anticipating and meeting needs through information, education, and frequent engagement. Digital marketing, open communication, and constant customer service are the medium to levering these relationships with the goal of maintaining interest while staying prepared when the time is right for them.

Other stakeholders at the bottom of the pyramid are those whom your company should not invest too much effort with engagement while still taking into account. In the environmental sphere, here are the climate activists using private aviation as an easy target for their own agendas. You should listen to them, read a couple of reputable headlines to stay informed, and provide an educated answer if a top stakeholder asks or comments about this topic – and that’s it. Again, we have larger fish to fry, like providing a safe and reliable service while aircraft manufacturers find new technological solutions for more efficient aircraft.

In essence, don’t change the values and mission of your company just because there’s external noise. Listen to the noise and analyze whether it’s necessary to take action based on the perception of those high-power and interested stakeholders.

I believe that our industry would benefit by having more readily available information and education campaigns for those stakeholders who lie at the indecision level, making them aware of what this industry is all about regarding job creation, connecting isolated regions, and the advancements in the race toward decarbonization, like the recent NBAA-led advocacy initiative launched in November in the NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas, called ‘Climbing Fast’

That way they will have all the tools to build their informed perception about private aviation, and not the one that’s being fed these days through the mainstream media.


About the Author

Pilot, president, and founder of Icarus Jet, a leading global trip support and aircraft management company, Kevin Singh has flown globally as a chief pilot and captain on private jets like the Hawker 800-A and 850 XP, and the Challenger 600 series and Global 6000.

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BlueSky Business Aviation News | 28th March 2024 | Issue #741


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