LunaJets, the Swiss private jet charter broker, was founded in 2007. But it has not experienced demand levels like those in the past five days ever before. The growing list of countries to enforce travel bans on movements, due to the spread of coronavirus, is the reason for this surge.
“Since Friday [March 13th] we have experienced the busiest few days in the company’s 12-year history,” Eymeric Segard, CEO, LunaJets told Corporate Jet Investor.
Segard says this demand is from people coming home from overseas as well as those trying to fly to holiday villas – in Marbella, Ibiza and Palma – away from cities on lockdown.
“We have flown some people back and forth on business trips, but they are no longer being booked,” he said.
Before US President Trump’s announcement of the travel ban on European flights, LunaJets saw a 15% increase in flight requests. After his announcement, this doubled and then, since other countries have starting closing borders, Segard said there was a 200% increase in requests year-on-year.
The company reported a 48% increase in bookings for March so far compared with last year. These have been a lot of long-haul flights, Segard said, carrying holidaymakers trying to return home from far away. Trips were made from Mexico, South Africa, Dubai and India back to European countries. It has carried 694 passengers already this month.
LunaJets also saw a spike in calls from French citizens after President Macron’s announcement concerning the containment measures in France, at 8 pm on March 16th. Calls received were six times its usual volume of activity in France for the month.
LunaJets has also seen an increase in demand for Chinese citizens and students flying back home since Tuesday. It has completed trips to Hong Kong, not mainland China, which will have quarantine measures for all incoming flights from high-risk areas from tonight (March 19th).
“However, as more clients reach their final destinations and more countries close borders, there is a decline in activity today,” said Segard. “Less and less people will need to come back because they are already home.”
As such, Segard expects further business aircraft flights to be restricted into destinations around the world. “Spain and South America are closed – except Bolivia and Mexico – and Turkey and Israel are increasingly complicated as well,” he said.
In a regular March, LunaJets will typically fly late skiers back from France, Austria and Switzerland, as well as those conducting business in all the major hubs in Europe.
In the best-case scenario, Segard says private jet flights will experience a slowdown for next the seven to 10 days. And in the worst case, bans continue for two-week intervals until the threat in different countries has reduced.
He also hopes the Schengen area-wide travel ban – which will deny non-Schengen passport holders from entering the 26 countries – does not affect movements between member countries.