It remains to be seen how long the current “tailwind” for private aviation will last, but an increase in customers is also expected for the summer months of 2022.

Corona reduced global aircraft movements by more than 75% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Private jet traffic recovered more quickly from the corona low blow than scheduled air traffic.

But what led to the upswing?

Governments provided the first part of the private-flight upswing, bringing double-digit numbers of flights per day to retrieve nationals back from affected regions, especially around the Chinese city of Wuhan. In addition, orders also came in from larger companies to fly out their employees. “It was a reflex, especially after the SARS-virus experience,” says Jeffrey Lowe, chief executive of Hong Kong-based Asian Sky Group. The experience of the travel restrictions or quarantine imposed in the winter of 2002/3 led to this boom.

The second impetus came from the airlines, which had to dramatically reduce or discontinue their services. Flights to China, for example, were suspended until April. Those who still flew at all, such as the Chinese state-owned airlines, for example Air China, under pressure from their government, had limited service. They ramped up security measures in contact between travellers and also to the flying staff: no blankets or pillows and limited in-flight service, served in sealed packets and protective clothing. “Not an experience after which you arrive rested,” reports one business traveller.

Ongoing production and projects, however, made international air travel in business necessary even in corona times. Companies have started to let professionals and top managers travel in private planes. The naturally higher costs also have an advantage: smaller planes can land at provincial airports away from the major airports, travellers are picked up and dropped off directly at the plane, and travel times are based on the passengers’ plans and not on a schedule of scheduled flights.

Not to be neglected are also, as a third trigger of the boom, wealthy private travellers with families who do not want to have their travel plans dictated by a virus. This applies to trips to crisis regions but also to holiday destinations currently not affected, in order to avoid large transfer airports. The costs for this are up to 4,000 EUR for an hour’s flight in smaller jets in normal times, and up to 10,000 EUR with the larger long-haul jets; due to the demand and higher requirements, this can currently be 20% to 50% more.

These surcharges are not only the result of supply and demand, but also due to the increased demands of customers. The requirement that no member of the crew has been in one of the crisis regions for weeks is not uncommon, or the additional disinfection of the jet plus a week’s rest. However, these demands could soon lead to a situation where, even with a surcharge, there may soon no longer be enough aircraft to fulfil all travel wishes.
It remains to be seen how long the current “tailwind” for private aviation will last, but an increase in customers is also expected for the summer months of 2022 . Business flights for high-ranking business travellers are also expected to remain at a high level; the advantages of flexibility already described above are a key factor for this clientele in particular. All in all, new opportunities for the private jet provider.

Image by Kim Hunter from Pixabay

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Patrick Kremer

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