Taylor Swift and biz aviation belong together


Dear Reader,

On Saturday night, an earthquake monitoring station in Edinburgh, Scotland picked up a tremor. It was caused by 75,000 Taylor Swift fans jumping at a concert 3.5 miles (6km) away. Swift’s Eras Tour has set seismic records around the world – in Seattle a concert registered the equivalent to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.

You would have to be fearless or foolish to attack Swift.

But this week, in the early daylight, two environmental protestors from Just Stop Oil cut through the fence surrounding the UK’s Stansted Airport. Their aim was to paint Swift’s gorgeous aircraft. They did not find it. Instead, they sprayed orange paint on two private jets and demanded an emergency treaty to end fossil fuels by 2030. They were arrested. The aircraft are no doubt clean now.

This is not the first time that pressure groups have criticised Swift’s jet use and tried to make her an anti-hero. But going after her reputation  could be a mistake. She is Miss Americana. A 2023 survey by Morning Consult said that 53% of adult Americans are Swift fans. Some 44% described themselves as Swifties. These mega-fans know her love story. They followed her flight back from Tokyo on a business jet to watch her lover Travis Kelce win the Superbowl with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The day before the protestors attempted to paint her jet, Just Stop Oil was widely condemned for painting some of the Stonehenge ancient stone circle orange, damaging rare delicate lichen.

In its wildest dreams, business aviation could not have picked a better role model. Swift uses business aviation to travel around the world in style, creating a gold rush in every country she performs in.

Sweden’s core inflation rose by 3% in May, with many blaming this on cash brought into the country by Swift’s fans (her friend Beyoncé also did this last May). A Bloomberg survey of economists estimated that just the five concerts in Singapore added between $225m and $300m (SGD400m) to the country’s economy.

Nomura estimates that the 53 concerts that made up the first US portion of the Eras Tour generated $5bn and raised US GDP by 0.02%. Ticket prices rose so high that many American fans are flying around the world to watch her.

We know all too well that this economic argument will not satisfy business aviation’s critics. At Corporate Jet Investor London green activists and politicians argued that business jets should be banned because of inequality as much as environmental effects (and that the two are linked – see below). It is champagne problems as much as carbon. There is nothing new about this argument.

“I think that’s where we should focus our attention in terms of conversation, as opposed to trying to fight off either those early adapters or the naysayers,”

At EBACE Michael Amalfitano, president of Embraer Executive Jets, said the industry should focus on winning the argument outside minorities. “You start to see the movable middle. I think that’s where we should focus our attention in terms of conversation, as opposed to trying to fight off either those early adapters or the naysayers,” he said. “It’s education. It’s collaboration.” The industry needs to fill that blank space.

Swift already buys carbon credits, but there is also the opportunity to publicise Sustainable Aviation Fuel. In 2019 Coldplay, a UK popular music group, said it would stop touring because of sustainability concerns. The band’s cardigan-wearing fans were delighted when it re-started concerts in 2022 after agreeing a deal with Neste to use SAF made from used cooking oil on its flights (not everyone agreed).

By targeting the enchanted Swift and her fans, protestors have pushed Amalfitano’s middle towards business aviation’s greatest ambassador. Ironically, one of the arrested protestors actually met Swift on a past UK tour. She knew better than to try to disrupt a concert. There would have been bad blood everywhere.

PS: Real Swifties should be able to spot at least 22 song titles in this piece.

The Green Party, Possible and Safe Landing were invited to Corporate Jet Investor London 2024 to explain why they believe that business jets should be banned. They did not hold back.

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