Q&A with Chad Verdaglio, president of Sawyer Aviation

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Phoenix, Arizona is now the 5th largest city in the USA due to its growing population and booming economy. Companies in many industries are moving their headquarters or operations to Phoenix, which is bringing in more new residents to the area and prompting increasing demand for business and private aviation services. Airplane commuters are growing as people are buying second homes and main residences in the area.

Chad Verdaglio, president of private charter company, Sawyer Aviation discusses how business aviation is growing in Phoenix and what to consider if you are planning a trip to the city.

When is the busiest time for business aviation in Phoenix? 

Phoenix is becoming less seasonal with more people living and traveling here year-round. That said, when the temperatures begin to drop around Thanksgiving we definitely start to see an increase in visitors flying in. When event season kicks in, such as the auto auctions, the Phoenix Open and Spring Training from January – April, flights into the area are busy. When temperatures increase during summer months it becomes quieter and there is more demand for flights taking people out of town to cooler climates.

How is business aviation growing in Phoenix?  

Aerospace is a huge industry for the Metro Phoenix area; Honeywell, Boeing, Gulfstream, Universal Avionics, Bombardier and Techstron all have growing operations here. We are also home to a regional service center out of the Mesa airport. In early 2021, Sawyer Aviation introduced SawyerMX to provide 24/7 maintenance and repair services to aircraft owners. We are also expanding our own fleet and finding our private charter business busier than ever.

Where are the main areas of growth?  

We are seeing a lot of companies in the industry growing through acquisition. People are buying their own aircraft at an increased rate and private charter services are more popular than ever as people are learning the ease and safety private travel provides. We are also seeing aircraft prices sky rocket in both new and used with demand being so strong.

What are the main things to consider when planning a trip to Phoenix? 

If you are flying privately, you need to make sure to book arrangements ahead of time, to ensure ramp space is available. If you own a business jet, know that weather changes can impact aircraft performance. Be prepared for dust storms and extreme heat during the summer months. Otherwise for most of the year  flying into Greater Phoenix can promise clear skies most days. During late winter and early through mid spring the airports will be busy.

How has Covid-19 impacted the market?

Covid-19 boosted the business aviation business for Phoenix. While air travel slowed considerably in spring 2020, Arizona removed mandates and opened business/entertainment up fairly quickly. And private business travel grew. We are seeing more people acquiring their own aircraft for their first time and chartering more often. Aircraft owners are placing their aircraft into a managed fleet to offset ownership costs.

Arizona is becoming more popular as a destination to visit and for those that can work remotely for extended periods. The area continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country with more people moving in daily and fleeing other more expensive cities and states.

Are you seeing different/new customers deciding to fly privately?

Very much so. People don’t want to have to sit on an airline with a mask on their face for hours. They would rather fly by themselves with their family in comfort and safety. Charter demand has increased as well as purchasing their own planes. People are looking into the economics of owning their own aircraft.

What does the future look like for business aviation in Phoenix?

We are going to continue to see strong increases over the next few years. Backlogs of aircraft orders should shorten as supply increases. There will be more of a supply to support demand. Hiring remains strong for pilot recruitment.

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About Author

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Paige is an experienced journalist and editor who started her career covering the building and architecture sector. After several years writing and editing online and print articles for leading journals in this sector, she is bringing her thorough approach to technical content to covering aerospace engineering. In her spare time she enjoys traveling and is always planning her next trip

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