Air Charter Service predicts surge in summer private jet travel bookings, as travellers look to avoid airport chaos


Justin Bowman

5 May 2021 – Leading aircraft charter specialist, Air Charter Service (ACS), is predicting a summer ‘boom’ in travel bookings for its private jet division this year. Despite seeing a surge in private demand directly after the UK’s first lockdown last year, the global aircraft company is forecasting a 20% year on year increase in new customer enquiries between June and August 2021. It suggests that chaotic travel conditions this summer are set to drive more new customers to the private aviation sector – both in business and leisure travel.

Air Charter Service has already seen an 80% increase in new enquiries in March compared with February, as confidence in the ability to travel this summer is evidently growing. Booking figures did not see the same increase (by only 22%), as the majority of new enquiries came from customers that were making summer travel preparations without committing until the situation is more clear.

Justin Bowman, Chief Executive Officer of Air Charter Service, comments: “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.”

Air Charter Service is also expecting a resurgence in high-level business travel this summer and suggests that the economic benefits of private aviation have been overlooked in recent years. Bowman continues: “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.

“Additionally, we predict that there will be an increase in uptake of carbon offset schemes where customers can invest in reducing carbon emissions. This is due to the fact that customers now have more confidence in carbon offsetting systems, such as the Gold Standard. Travellers understand that ‘green aviation’ is still some way off but they can still make a difference through these projects where the technology to reduce emissions exists but the funding does not.”

Bowman concludes: “A recent McKinsey report revealed that only 10% of people who can afford to travel privately actually do and we believe that new customers will continue to turn to private aviation this summer. 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.”