We asked our Managing Director Keith to discuss the implications of this year on private jet charters and how Covid-19 has changed the private travel landscape.
An overview of private jet travel in 2020
There has been an overall decline in private jet travel since March. The worst month was April where private jet movements were down 70%. Since then there has been a recovery with flights in May down 50% and 35% in June. July and August were the busiest months this year. In September, the market was 12% down on the same period last year. However, the resurgence of the virus and the associated lockdown renewals have seen a steady deterioration with a 11% drop in rolling average activity since the start of October.
The UK continues to be the hardest hit with outbound flights falling 32% since the start of September. Europe fared slightly better over the last 5 weeks with Spain, France, Switzerland, and Belgium all seeing 20% declines. Other countries are maintaining 90% or more of normal activity including Germany, Italy and Austria. Private jet flights in Portugal are up 10%. In Greece and Turkey, where there were airbridges throughout the summer, flights increased by more than 40% on last year.
From the start of October into the first week of November the global business aviation sectors have declined by just under 15% compared to the same period last year. However, with new lockdowns now in place worldwide, the 7-day rolling average since mid-October has slid back by 10% and is declining each day up to 3rd November.
Prior to the COVID pandemic less than 10% of those who could fly privately were actually doing so. One of the biggest markets hit is long-haul private jet flights from Europe to the USA and Far East. This is due to the tight restrictions the USA and Asia had on arriving passengers. The USA is still extremely difficult to get into if you do not hold a US passport or residency permit.
There has been an increase in the amount of “first time” private jet users over the last 4-months. However, we think that once commercial travel returns to normal, they will not continue flying privately.
A rise in popularity of empty leg flights
There has been a huge increase in requests for empty legs since April both in the US and Europe. With the shutting down of most commercial flights the only alternative was to look at a private jet. In addition, with the perceived risk of catching COVID by going through main terminals and sitting on commercial flights people looked at private jets as an alternative.
We found that, whilst there was a significant increase in requests, actual bookings were significantly less than our normal conversion rate. We believe that this is down to price. With the increase in enquiries, operators were confident that they would sell their empty legs so offered fair pricing, however this was perhaps more money than some people expected.
Last minute bookings due to quarantine
In April a significant amount of flights were booked worldwide to get people where they wanted to be and to most likely where they wanted to quarantine. In addition, with the short notice of countries being added to the quarantine list (with as little as 48 hours’ notice) people who could pay the extra and get home were doing so. There was a spike in flights over the two or three days when this happened then it quietened significantly, since there were less and less places people could travel.
The decline of the corporate market
The corporate market has decreased significantly over the last 5 months with technology taking over from face to face meetings, and therefore the need to travel. With the restrictions that were in place in most countries it was almost impossible for people to get in unless they live there. This has since relaxed, and we have had air bridges, although these are decreasing. The new lockdown measures in countries throughout Europe make it more difficult to travel at the moment.
The corporate market does not want to unnecessarily expose their Executives to COVID-19 through travel of any kind and unless the meeting must take place they are not travelling.
Your safety is our priority
The health and safety of our passengers remains our top priority. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Jetlogic team has been working daily to conduct international and domestic operations while managing and mitigating risk associated with the virus and aviation travel. Find out more about how we are keeping you safe.
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jetlogic Ltd. is not a direct or indirect "Air Carrier". jetlogic Ltd, as agent for its clients arranges flights on aircraft operated by FAR Part 135 or 121 air carriers of foreign equivalent ("Operators"), who shall maintain full operational control of charter flights at all times. Operators providing services must meet FAA or EASA/JAR safety requirements as well as additional safety standards established by jetlogic Ltd. jetlogic Ltd services are provided in accordance with 14 CFR Part 295 requirements.