Aviation Trade Advertising Looking Up

Article excerpt

Aviation trade advertising looking up

NEW YORK CITY--After a long period of being grounded, advertising in aviation business magazines is starting to take off again.

The top 50 advertisers in aviation industry media increased their advertising by more than 8 percent last year, according to Patterson Advertising Reports. And that uptick continued through the first half of 1990.

At this point, the main beneficiaries are a few titles, including Aviation Equipment Maintenance (AEM), Flying and Commuter Air, which posted double-digit ad revenue gains last year. In fact, four titles in the middle and lower parts of the market posted double-digit declines. Still, as a group, the 14 aviation titles that Patterson tracks are on the upswing, with a first half 1990 ad revenue gain of 3.1 percent.

Although new plane orders for general aviation have been sour for a few years, aircraft manufacturers are now scrambling to keep up with record orders for new jets. Meanwhile, aftermarket and maintenance sales for existing aircraft are soaring, as large airlines struggle to keep their fleets in tip-top shape while waiting for new planes.

"Aviation has had some tough spots in the last decade," says Randall Mikulecky, director of client services at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, an ad agency in Wichita, Kansas, with several large aviation accounts. "Now a few key indicators are looking up, and the industry is more positive than it's been in a long time."

Field heavily segmented

The "aviation trade industry" is in fact a wide-ranging group of niches. "No two titles are quite alike," says Paul Berner, editor of AEM, which covers maintenance for airliners, commuter carriers and corporate fleets. Air Transport World covers the world's passenger carriers, while Flying targets private pilots of four-seaters. Some titles report on the latest in cockpit navigation equipment; others help airport executives plan terminal renovations.

Consequently, a setback in one segment may sometimes mean prosperity in another.

For instance, new small plane sales have been sagging for more than a decade. This hasn't been good news for books relying too heavily on manufacturers such as Piper, Cessna and Beech. But it also means private pilots are keeping aircraft longer and spending more on maintenance at fixed-base operators (FBOs), the aviation equivalent of the general store.

"Because they sell everything from fuel to the latest cockpit bells and whistles, FBOs are now the economic center of the industry," says Mike Murrell, publisher of Johnson Hill Press's Aviation Group, whose bimonthlies include FBO and 1989 start-up Aircraft Technician.

Still, the pendulum could soon swing back again, according to Kenneth Gazzola, executive vice president of McGraw-Hill's Aviation Week Group, publisher of Business & Commercial Aviation (BCA), Aviation Week & Space Technology and other titles. "As aircraft get older, some will get too expensive to overhaul," Gazzola says. "This could help rev up the new plane market again."

Airport management is changing, too. Although airport traffic continues to rise in every plane class, no major new airports have been built since Dallas/Fort Worth International in 1974. This puts enormous pressure on existing facilities, according to Patrick Barry, publisher of Airport Services Management (ASM). …