Private planes are becoming a more attractive means of business travel as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on. According to a survey from Pearl Meyer of more than 300 public and private companies, usage of private planes for air travel may increase this year.
The survey shows companies are justifying the business use of private jets as protection from COVID-19, and some companies are considering expanding private jet use. Nearly half of respondents to Pearl Meyer’s survey—48%—say their company has expanded the use of company-owned aircraft during the pandemic or plans to do so as restrictions on business travel are lifted. In addition to expanded use, who gets to use the jet may change: 17% of responding companies reported that they have already expanded, or plan to expand, jet use in light of the pandemic.
While investors would likely take issue with any increased personal use of company planes, increased business use of company-owned aircraft is not subject to disclosure requirements, says Deb Lifshey, managing director at Pearl Meyer.
While some element of videoconferencing in the boardroom may be here to stay, business travel will remain necessary and experts believe virtual annual meetings may fall by the wayside in the COVID-19 recovery.
“Proxy advisors don’t like virtual meetings,” says Lifshey. “You have to provide proper notice, and you get dinged if you don’t follow certain requirements.”
According to Lifshey, in markets where virtual meetings are prohibited, companies are postponing their annual meetings until it’s possible to hold physical meetings.
“As these companies announce their postponed annual meetings, ISS will note positively companies that engage with their shareholders and investors using forms of electronic communications, including webcasts and conference calls,” says Lifshey in an e-mail.