People who had never flown on private jets are opting to use them in order to avoid the crowds and lines seen in commercial flights to avoid possible infection of the novel coronavirus which has resulted in rapid rebound from the pandemic crisis for private-jet industry.
According to industry data and Private Jet Card Comparisons, the occupancy rate in private flights is as much as 70 per cent of normal occupancy compared to commercial air traffic recording just about 15 per cent to 17 per cent of last year’s totals. There are also some private-jet charter companies that are recording greater numbers than in the same period last year. A completely new set of customers choosing to fly in private jets because of health concerns as well as because of lower jet prices are the major reasons for the growth in private jet hiring.
According to Pat Gallagher, the president of sales, marketing and service of industry leader NetJets, the number of new customer sign-ups in the month of May was more than double that of any typical May of previous years. Since December 2007, which had been the industry’s previous peak, May was the biggest month in terms of attracting new clients.
I the first two weeks of June, there was an increase of 85 per cent year over year rise in inquiries at the private-jet charter broker PrivateFly. On the other hand, new customers accounted for more than 5,000 jet hours that was sold since the beginning of April by Sentient Jet, part of Directional Aviation, the company said.
According to the CEO of Vista Jet, Thomas Flohr, the company has seen demand reach as much as 85 per cent of its pre-pandemic traffic in the United States, said the global charter company. People who never had private-jet programs or memberships before made up about 71 per cent of the new customers, Flohr said.
Personal travel by wealthy affluent fliers — many of them older, has more than made up for the loss in demand for business travel, which has remains almost nonexistent because of the pandemic, say private-jet companies. Many of the families who could afford hiring a private jet for flying are currently willing to spend the extra money for greater health safety even though they still cannot justify the additional costs, say private-jet companies.
“What we are seeing today is predominantly personal travel with people traveling to see loved ones, moving between homes and otherwise looking for an escape from wherever they have been hunkered down through the pandemic,” NetJets’ Gallagher said.
The business for its private-jet charter planes has grown by more than 600 per cent year on year, said Blade, a private-aviation company that runs choppers and planes. It said that the customers who had never chartered a flight accounted for more than 70 per cent of the customers.
Lower cost is also one of the major factors that is attracting a huge number of first time hirers of private jest. The prices for hiring some flights are lower by 30 per cent to 50 per cent compared to what they were about a year ago which has made the cost of hiring private jets close to those of flying first-class or business-class on commercial airlines.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)