UK entrepreneur and television personality Lord Alan Sugar has put his weight behind the business aviation community by advocating the use of private aircraft as a "valuable" business tool for company executives.
He does concede however that the current economic climate is hampering the advocacy because as many businesses are either opting not to use private jets or are simply not willing to be an outspoken proponent of this niche form of transport.
Speaking at the UK Business and General Aviation Association conference today, Lord Sugar said: "The timing is completely wrong. The use of private jets by executives at a time when money is tight and people are losing their jobs will be frowned upon as a waste of money. We would be laughed at."
Lord Sugar concedes that private jets are a valuable business asset. "They are an efficient use of an executive's time," he said.
Lord Sugar acquired his first aircraft to enable him to reach one of his factories in Denmark. "This factory was in an inconvenient location and it was so time consuming trying to reach it via commercial airlines. Having a private jet enabled me to reach my destination, do the necessary business and return home the same day," he said.
Lord Sugar - himself a private pilot's licence holder - has owned a number of private jets including the first UK registered Cessna Citation Excel, Embraer Legacy 600 and Legacy 650. The large cabin aircraft was delivered late last year and is based in London Stansted.
"The Legacy is a personal gift to myself. I use the aircraft for business but also as a luxury. I won't go through the main airport terminals any more - the security process is rubbish!".
He believes the demand for business aircraft will return as the economy improves. "Five years ago the economic boom created a lot of expenditure that doesn't exist today. Many people carried on a billionaire lifestyle funded by massive bank borrowing. It was a dream world and it is going to come back when we have irresponsible spending again. The good news is, it will happen."