Business aviation to continue rebound and retain new clients post-Covid-19


Private aviation will continue to be “a top performer in the travel and tourism segment in the near term and is well-positioned to keep its momentum in a post-Covid-19 world”, according to Doug Gollan, founder, Private Jet Card Comparisons.

A survey of subscribers to the private aviation buyers’ guide found nearly 30% may switch some airline flights to private aircraft amidst concerns about the risk of Covid-19 infection, domestic terror threats and unrest in the wake of the riot at the Capitol.

The research also found, despite the Covid-19 testing requirements for anyone entering the US, more than two-thirds expect to travel internationally. Furthermore, 96% of respondents who had started or restarted flying privately due to the coronavirus say they plan to continue after the pandemic ends.

Just over 40% of newcomers said they would continue to “regularly” fly privately after the pandemic is over. A further 55% said they would use private aviation “once in a while after the pandemic is over”. Only 4% expect to stop private flights.

1.5m households have the means

A McKinsey report last year estimated there were around 100,000 regular private aviation users in the US, although 1.5m households have the means. Private air charters are back to 90% of pre-Covid levels, largely driven by new users.

Of those respondents who flew privately prior to the pandemic, 38% said they will likely increase the percentage of their flights using private aviation after the pandemic is over, with 55% saying usage will be similar to before Covid-19 .

Several respondents were sceptical of cleaning and social distancing procedures by the airlines. Others added that decreased airline schedules mean much longer travel times and more problematic connections.

The riot at the Capitol, threats to elected officials in airports, and the possibility of more domestic terrorism and unrest is also spurring more respondents to private jets. Nearly a third (32%) of new private flyers said they may end up switching some flights away from the airlines to private aviation.

Switching some flights away from airlines

In terms of private aviation solutions, 83% of Gollan’s subscribers use jet cards, 32% charter on a trip-by-trip basis, 12% catch rides on friends ’private jets, 6% have fractional shares, 4% own their own private jets and 1% fly on private aircraft for companies they work for, but don’t own.

For jet card users, 61% said it was the first time they bought a jet card from that provider, 40% renewed with an existing provider and 26% said they didn’t need to buy additional hours. Numbers add up to more than 100% as some users bought jet cards from multiple providers. Whilst about one in five (19%) reported switching providers.

Meanwhile, the International Aircraft Dealers’ Association (IADA) reported a spike in pre-owned transactions going into the end of 2020. Following a “pandemic-induced plunge” in pre-owned aircraft sales in March last year, members of the IADA have reported a rise in transactions, highlighted by a fourth quarter surge of 554 closed deals.

Elsewhere, Jet Edge has expanded its fleet in response to rising custom. Thanks to additions from the Gulfstream and Bombardier floating fleets, Jet Edge now has the largest combined super-mid size and large cabin floating fleet in the US, according to Jonah Adler, the firm’s chief commercial and marketing officer.

The fleet of more than 90 aircraft has already flown its most famous customer in 2021. As newly sworn-in President Joe Biden charted two of Jet Edge’s Boeing Business Jets to fly to his inauguration on Wednesday.

Private Jet Card Comparisons’ survey – at a glance:

  • 96% of new private jet travellers plan to continue after the pandemic
  • 30% of respondents say domestic terror threats and unrest may increase their percentage of private flights away from the airlines
  • 68% expect to travel internationally despite new COVID-19 requirements that include private jet travellers
  • Subscribers spent an average of $211,607 on jet card purchases over the past 18 months.