Before the pandemic, private jets were often shunned due to their carbon footprint but a new focus on personal health means usage has rocketed. We have seen more private jet requests than ever before, June was a record month for Flightserve in terms of private jet charter.
Pre-pandemic private jets were heavily shunned for their carbon footprint impact, now the focus on personal health has caused a surge.
McKinsey recently indicated prior to the Covid-19 pandemic that only 10 per cent of those who could afford to fly privately were doing so. In other words, the traditional private aviation sales pitch of efficiency, privacy and ease-of-travel wasn’t compelling enough for the vast majority of the addressable market.
The airlines continue to argue that it is not necessary to socially distance on board their aircraft, basically they need to sell all seats and not implement no seat in the middle isle etc.
A study recently released has highlighted that potential exposure to Covid-19 is 30 times lower when flying privately.
Private aviation was also impacted, seeing flights drop by as much as 80 per cent in April. That has meant in some cases previously unseen low prices for on-demand charters coming from fleet operators.
While most private aircraft you fly on when you charter are owned by individuals or companies that rent them out when they don’t need them, there are also a number of significant owned fleets. Many owners didn’t want their planes used by others during this period, but for those operators with their own air planes, with lower fuel prices, and fixed costs that don’t go away when planes are on the ground, the idea was to keep them in the air at steep discounts.
As businesses begin to re-open and more travel is again necessary, with airline schedules at skeleton levels of course travel is much more difficult. Fewer trips are possible in one day, and clients are formatting policies about accepting visits who arrive by airlines as part of duty of care for their teams.
As airlines have reduced schedules, and parents are concerned about unknown impact of Covid-19 on children, those visits to second homes – both by driving or flying commercially – are being switched to private aviation. In some cases, it just isn’t possible to get away for that long weekend with the airline schedules. In other cases, affluent households are concerned about having to stop while driving.
For these wealthy travellers who fall in the high-risk segment, they want to visit their second homes, but don’t want to risk exposure to the potentially deadly virus. – hence private aviation is perfect.
Most newcomers will be low-frequency travellers, expecting to use private aviation for a few trips per year. Common wisdom is that once you fly privately, it’s hard to go back.
In other words, to figure out cost compared to airline travel, you need to divide by the number of seats you are filling, not number of seats on the plane. Jet sharing may see a boost, but in the past, jet sharing has worked best when there was high activity during short periods, like flying to the Super Bowl.
If airlines undergo huge financial pressure, and decide to use prune routes, alter frequencies, alter flight routes and keep lounges closed it will be inevitable that the private jet industry will continue to boom.