Air Charter Service predicts summer private travel ‘boom’


Air Charter Service (ACS) is predicting a boom in summer travel bookings for its private jet division, forecasting a 20% year-on-year increase from 2020 between June and August 2021.

ACS has already reported an 80% increase in new enquiries in March compared with February, although booking figures did not see the same increase – only 22%. ACS said this was down to the majority of new enquiries coming from customers making summer travel preparations without committing until the situation becomes more clear.

Justin Bowman, CEO, ACS said: “What we are hearing from customers is that the lingering fear of coronavirus infection, along with the inevitable delays at airports, is driving this surge in interest. Travellers do not feel confident that flying by scheduled service will be a smooth process, as the Covid-19-related immigration requirements at airports will cause delays and additional stress.

“Travellers do not experience the same delays at private terminals and, as the pandemic continues to evolve, customers want to be able to fly back quickly if it looks like quarantine regulations will change.”

ACS is also forecasting a resurgence in business travel this summer, suggesting that the economic benefits of private aviation have been overlooked in recent years. Bowman said: “We believe that business leaders are starting to realise that they are losing competitive advantage by not opting for private aviation. With the continued disruption in scheduled airline connections, the case for private aviation for business is only going to increase.

“Whilst general business travel spend is expected to decrease, we feel these savings will be realised by reducing business travel at the lower end of organisations. As a result, more senior business leaders will become the ‘face ’of their organisation more than ever and, with the value of their time being so much higher, business travel via private aviation will come into its own,” said Bowman.

Bowman referenced McKinsey research last year that revealed only 10% of people who can afford to travel privately actually do. He believes that new customers will continue to turn to private aviation this summer.

He concluded: “Growth in bookings and enquiries will be limited by the number of aircraft available, however we know the number of flights that the market can support. Provided that destinations such as France, Italy and Spain contain their case numbers and relax travel restrictions, we expect a 20% growth in flight numbers between June and August compared with 2020, bringing the market back to 2019 levels.”