The private jet industry has been a bit more optimistic lately, in part because of business travelers like Mark Dowley who use it to patch holes in the domestic air travel system.

Mr. Dowley, an executive for a private equity firm and a marketing consultant, said he still flew commercial planes on the long, nonstop routes that airlines offer in abundance. But he will sometimes take a business jet to a smaller destination — the kind of place that could take an additional three hours or more to reach by commercial plane. So he may fly commercially from New York to San Francisco for a meeting in San Jose, and then fly by private jet to San Diego for more meetings.