Colleges routinely own or lease aircraftShould the aircraft be used as economically as possible? Absolutely. Should North Dakota agencies share their aircraft to bring the cost-per-flight-hour down? Without a doubt.
By: Grand Forks Herald, The Jamestown Sun
Should the aircraft be used as economically as possible? Absolutely. Should North Dakota agencies share their aircraft to bring the cost-per-flight-hour down? Without a doubt.
But throughout the debate about North Dakota State University’s leased plane, some have said that university officials shouldn’t be flying in state-owned aircraft at all. Such flights are an extravagance, and when NDSU President Dean Bresciani goes to Bismarck to visit the Legislature, he should drive, critics say.
The critics are wrong, as the field of business aviation proves 24 hours a day.
Most of America’s more than 6,300 airports serve general aviation aircraft only; just 560 airports handle commercial passenger flights.
And most of the 15,000 business aircraft registered in the United States are flown by small- and mid-sized companies, not large firms.
Clearly, lots of people — including lots of private-sector entrepreneurs and executives, people who answer to a profit-or-loss bottom line — find that the time saved by flying point-to-point more than makes up for the cost, especially when distances are great, commercial air service isn’t available and attending a meeting otherwise would consume too much of executives’ time.
And what’s true for businesses also is true for nonprofit organizations and government. There are more than 2,000 business-type aircraft in government service across the United States, and they “drive taxpayer value in many ways on the federal, state and local levels,” concludes 2012 study conducted in part by the National Association of State Aviation Officials.
That’s why the University of Wyoming owns and operates an aircraft. “Only employees and guests of the University of Wyoming on university business are permitted to fly on university aircraft,” the University of Wyoming Flight Information webpage notes.
That’s why Oklahoma State University owns aircraft: “University-owned and operated aircraft may be utilized for university faculty and staff transportation on university business,” OSU’s website declares.
That’s why the University of Tennessee owns aircraft: “It is the intent of these policies that efficient use of university aircraft will be made to conduct official university business. ... Time is an important consideration for the president, vice presidents, chancellors and other senior staff.”
And Ohio University: “University personnel are encouraged to consider university owned and operated aircraft for business travel.”
And the University of Texas system, which, “as authorized by the Legislature, owns and operates a nine-passenger aircraft. ... The aircraft is to be used by system faculty and staff in the conduct of official state business, and its use is governed by state law.”
And the University of Virginia: “The University Airplane is available as a means of providing on-demand air transportation. ... Scheduling priority will be given to the Office of the President in reserving the university’s airplane.”
And the University of Kansas, whose “University Aircraft Policy” is designed “to provide university personnel with aircraft for traveling on official university business when time is critical to their mission.”
But it’s also in the interest of this 69,000-square-mile state, the 20th largest state in the union, to maximize the productivity of its highest paid executives by minimizing their travel time. The list includes the governor, and it includes the university presidents, whose jobs routinely take them to every corner of the state.