CJI Middle East & Africa: ‘Little change in activity without vaccine’



Without a vaccine, or at least some relaxing of border controls, charter activity will remain at a similar level to that it has witnessed post-pandemic, Andy Christie, private jets director, Air Charter Service told CJI Middle East & Africa 2020 delegates last week.

Providing insight to the panel, The Middle East Charter Market, Christie said: “I think until there’s a vaccine, which is the million dollar question, we probably going to see more of what we have seen so far. A lot of need-to-fly customers rather than leisure flying and while enquiry levels are high, it is getting the actual flights off the ground that presents challenges.”

Air Charter Service has seen a 176% increase in new customers in the Middle East region since , which indicates the level of potential customer demand. . However, Christie highlights it is a “different story” trying to complete flights . “Hopefully, the relaxing of some borders will start to see business travel activity pick up again, as that is really some way behind at the moment.”

According to Christie, Air Charter Service’s strike rate isn’t down as may be expected in the wake of a global lockdown. The company is still dealing with medical flights and repatriations, particularly into Dubai, and new entrants looking for one-way flights. “It’s getting the flights over the line. If we can get that flexibility – in terms of lead time to get permits or the travellers going to slightly more favourable destinations – it’s going to be easier.”

Ritu Bagri, fellow panelist and charter manager at Vertis Aviation, said her company had also seen an influx of new clientele to the business. “We have also seen a lot on enquiries from people who were flying first and business class that want to move onto smaller jets, but sadly there is not much available in the region bar a few aircraft. So, people want to fly private jets but are just not able to. A small jet in this region is typically a Challenger or a Legacy and that becomes quite expensive too.”

Light jets have come into their own in many jurisdictions post-pandemic. But Ian Moore, , VistaJet’s chief operating officer, doesn’t take this a sign he should start boosting the fleet with light jet additions. VistaJet has instead decided to move its fleet of 70 or so aircraft around the globe in response to the areas of of highest demand. This has allowed the company to remain competitive, says Moore and is certainly an advantage of having a floating fleet.

The online conference – Corporate Jet Investor Middle East & Africa 2020 – took place on Wednesday September 16th. You can listen to the free access conference by registering here.