The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has created a travel environment unlike any other year. Initially, we witnessed a surge of private jet charter enquiries as clients needed to repatriate themselves and their families as the global lockdown was imposed. As restrictions began to lift and clients were enthusiastic for a change of scenery, we saw a 321% increase in private jet enquiries for the summer period, compared to the same time last year. As the focus of our enquiries now move towards winter sun our dedicated team of aviation experts are on hand 24/7 to navigate clients through the continuously changing travel restrictions. Our Managing Director of Charter, Kevin Macnaughton, has put together key market trends we have witnessed so far and our advice for travelling at this time.
The value of a controllable environment
Many passengers are now recognising the safety and greater degree of control over the end-to-end experience that private charter offers. We have integrated several safety measures including deep cleaning of aircraft, providing PPE and hand sanitiser on board in addition to an optional individual, sealed meal service. We’ve seen a noticeable increase in families flying privately as they recognise the benefits of flying within their own bubble, therefore limiting their exposure to the virus. Chartering a private jet also offers the additional benefit of avoiding commercial airports and instead using private terminals, vastly reducing the number of touchpoints and surfaces as well as face-to-face interaction, therefore greatly reducing any potential infection risk.
Avoiding the quarantine roulette
The continuous changes to countries that require a 14-day quarantine upon return and those considered ‘safe’ have been difficult for many to keep track of. The last-minute dash to get home from countries including France, Spain and the Greek Islands saw limited availability and a sudden hike in prices from many commercial airlines. Private jet passengers recognise the flexibility and availability that flying privately offers, with access to over 7,000 aircraft and our dedicated team of aviation experts on hand 24/7, we can quickly adapt clients travel plans and ensure they avoid any potential quarantine. This year has also seen an increase in the number of people joining our JetCard membership programme, with guaranteed availability and no cancellation fees up to the day before your flight, it’s the most flexible way to fly.
Upgrade of the first-class traveller
With many scheduled services heavily disrupted or still unable to operate there has been an increase in first-time private jet passengers, who previously travelled in first or business class on commercial airlines. These clients recognise the safety, flexibility, availability and greater degree of control over the end-to-end experience. We believe this is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future until confidence is restored in the safety and hygiene of commercial aircraft and airports. Looking ahead we believe many will continue to recognise these benefits as we move into the winter with clients seeking an idyllic escape to sunnier climes or an escape to their second homes.
Charter to be regarded as a necessity for essential business travel
Business travel has inevitably slowed down in 2020 with a shift towards online meeting technology. When corporate clients do return, we expect more businesses to consider private jet charter for essential travel than before the crisis, due to many of the reasons mentioned above. Whilst we anticipate business travel as a whole to be reduced to the essential trips, charter is likely to be considered for critical business trips due to availability and safety. As a result, flying privately is likely to be increasingly viewed as a necessity in the current climate, rather than a luxury. Throughout the crisis, we have helped businesses in sectors such as oil & gas to continue critical work through bespoke shuttle programmes with additional safety measures. We expect demand to increase across other sectors and to work closely with businesses to meet their specific health and safety requirements.