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Survey results: FSANA COVID-19 (June 2020)

In June FSANA sent out a survey to flight training providers asking about the effects of COVID-19 on their training business. With over 150 respondents, and a promise to share their responses with our members and the flight training industry, here is what FSANA found as some of the highlights from that survey.

Approximately Half Didn’t Close
The first question of the survey, “Did your flight school close due to COVID-19” received responses that included “Yes”, “No”, and “To dual training, but allowed solo flying/rental”.
Nearly half, 49.6% said they never closed, while 35% did, and a smaller, 12.7% indicated they limited operations to solo/rental flying.

Relating to this question, for those that indicated they closed, a follow up question was asked. From the 35% who indicated they had closed, only 40% of these respondents indicated they were open again at the time of the survey.

A Full Return to Operations Not Present for Many
All respondents were asked, “To what level of operations are you at compared to prior to closure from COVID-19?” The responses from this ranged with about 30% indicating they were less than 29% of previous operations, with about 56% indicating they were somewhere between 50%-75% of their operational level, and about 27% indicating they were between 75-100% of previous levels. This is somewhat positive in that the majority of respondents indicated they were seeing returns to operational levels, but still shows many have not fully returned at the time of their responses.

Relating to this, the survey asked if the respondents, “Did you loose any customers?”
Nearly 65% of the responses to this question indicated they thought they had lost some of their customers permanently.

Lost Revenue?
Relating to both the above questions, lost customer and reduction in activity, the survey asked if the flight training providers “Do you believe you lost revenue as a result of COVID-19 effects?”

The response was a resounding yes to this question, with over 78% saying yes.

When asked how much of an effect it was on their operation, a combined slightly over 50% indicated that the loss would be less than $100,000 to their business, but there were indications by some that the effects were greater (8% saying $100,000-250,000 and 11.4% indicating a loss of greater than $250,000). The real business effects in customer and revenue loss as a result of COVID-19 are going to be felt for some time by most flight training providers in this country.

Makeup Funding/Revenue?
When considering lost revenue, we wanted to know if respondents were able to take advantage of some of the loan/grant options that were rolled out in response to COVID-19.
When asked if their operation had applied for PPP loans, 53% said they had, but of those that indicated they had applied, only 43% had received those funds at the time of the survey.

Moving Forward
The survey also asked a few questions that we thought would be of interest in efforts to move beyond and forward.

When asked if the operation was going to require “… students and instructors to wear face coverings while in flight?”, 33% said yes, only 12% said no, and 36% indicated they were leaving that choice up to their customers.

Of the responses, 45% also indicated they provided training to foreign students. We asked this question due to the potential concern for many providers related to bringing students from foreign locations into the United States to continue training critical to many business models focused on training for international students. Limiting travel for foreign students will have an obvious effect on these business models if these limitations are persistent.

FSANA will continue to monitor the effects of and recovery from COVID-19 on the flight training industry and provide data and information as it becomes available. We are hopeful that this survey information helps flight training providers compare and contrast their own experiences with the rest of the industry.

Interested in more detail than just the highlights from this survey and the data collected?
Full survey report