WeDigest > The High Life > In Times of Pandemic, Fly Private!

In Times of Pandemic, Fly Private!

Private jets have always been seen as a lifestyle of the rich and famous. From presidential to to royal fleets, picture the US presidential stepping off Air Force One and John Travolta’s house which is actually a functioning airport with planes parked in the front yard. Depending on a variety of factors, such as the number of passengers, distance, luggage space needs, and costs, there are various aircrafts to suit one’s needs. There is also a myriad of reasons contributing to its appeal for both business and personal purposes:

Emerging trends from Covid-19

An interesting study by McKinsey showed that prior to the pandemic, only 10% of those who could afford to fly privately were doing so. This means that despite all its merits, it still wasn’t compelling enough for the wealthy, with its high carbon footprint, abundant alternatives of commercial flights at lower prices being some of them.

 

Some of the jet aircrafts belong to individuals/businesses who would rent them out when they are not in use, however with the current pandemic, they may prefer to avoid others from utilisation. The other significant segment is operators with their own fleet, who are keen to defray the high fixed costs and take advantage of the lower fuel costs. Some initiatives have been taken to make private air travel more accessible, such as lowering the typical buy-in for jet cards to make it more accessible, and more tie-ups with luxury hospitality operators who have also seen their businesses impacted.

 

Before Covid-19, the growth of private jets market was around 6% per year, and was forecasted to continue at the same compounded annual growth rate for the next 10 years. After the pandemic, the attractiveness of the private jet market should increase with travel safety taking a front seat. The crisis is bringing about a change in perception at a time when commercial air travel seems risky for most, due to the high contamination risks involving crowded airports with strangers sharing a small cabin space, as well as grounded aircrafts affecting availability of flights and schedule.

 

On the contrary, private jet flights seem safer. GlobeAir, Europe’s foremost private jet operator, estimates that chartered flights are 30 times safer, as a series of « Covid-19 cleared » programs have been launched to clean and sterilize every touch point in a journey to prevent potential contact with pathogens. This includes a seven-page checklist detailing which cleaning agents are to be used, the equipment cleaners themselves wear, and to illustrate the meticulosity, ground transportation vehicles which have been disinfected are sealed until guests arrive, to avoid any potential contamination from unauthorised personnel. Private jets have a clear advantage in offering customized safety package. In the near future, people will travel less and will most likely ask for a high level of security standard. 

 

For travellers who were already on business or first class, the higher prices of flying on a private jet are not a deal-breaker. GlobeAir reported a 67% increase in newly-acquired passengers since the beginning of the pandemic who used to be frequent business class travellers. In light of a lack of commercial flights, there has been a surge in demand for private jets due to repatriation needs as well as cargo services for emergency medical supplies.